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GIRLS LAX: Archbishop Carroll Claims Fourth Consecutive PIAA State Title

By John Knebels. Photos: Kyra Birmingham, 06/29/24, 2:00PM EDT


Archbishop Carroll 2024 PIAA 2A State Champions

Archbishop Carroll defeats Twin Valley 16-7 to win its 4th consecutive PIAA 2A State Championship - PSD Photo by Kyra Birmingham

Photos/Videos: Kyra Birmingham & John Knebels

By: John Knebels


STATE COLLEGE – Looking back at Archbishop Carroll’s fourth consecutive girls’ lacrosse state title, one particular image epitomizes what this dynasty has become at the PIAA Class 2 level.

And it occurred in the very last second of the contest . . . literally.

With the benches counting down the final ticks of the Patriots’ 16-7 victory over Twin Valley on June 15 at Penn State University, junior Ava Talago intercepted a pass near midfield and streaked up field. By the time she arrived at the net, two defenders tried to prevent her from shooting, but it was no use.

Suddenly looking like a bona fide sniper, Talago made a nifty spin move and fired a laser over Twin Valley goalie’s right shoulder. Simultaneously with the buzzer, Talago raised her arms and stick to the sky, and her teammates raced over to celebrate Carroll’s fifth state crown in school history.

What made the goal so significant was that Ava Talago is a defenseman, and lacrosse defensemen score goals at an exceedingly rare clip. So as Twin Valley walked off the field having lost to Carroll in the state final for a third straight season, they did so knowing that even Carroll’s defensemen possess formidable offensive skills. 

2024 PIAA 2A State Championship Highlights - PDS Video by John KNebels

“I knew that time was running out,” said Talago. “When I picked that pass off, I knew there was like no time left. I took the shot and it went in. It was awesome.”

Statistically, Talago’s tally meant little. Six goals by senior Philadelphia Catholic League Most Valuable Player Chloe Bleckley – five in a first half that ended with Carroll ahead by 9-4 – joined two more by senior Brooke Hippert and junior Claire Sexton – and one each by six different teammates. Including in the scoring was senior Sam Hewitt, who collected her 100th point of the campaign.

 “Obviously that’s a big success,” said Hewitt, “but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates and working together with them.”

Before Talago’s goal slammed an emphatic exclamation point on a dominating team performance start to finish, the commination of Carroll’s defense, goaltending, and draw-control dominance by senior Sienna Golden frustrated a fatigued and overwhelmed Twin Valley squad that resulted in numerous Raider infractions and a whopping seven free-position goals from eight meters. 

Carroll’s only struggle occurred late in the first quarter when Twin Valley erased a 4-0 deficit with three straight goals – the last occurring with three seconds left – in a 3-minute, 41-second span.  

“We definitely needed to talk about it because there was a lot of miscommunication,” said senior Jayanna Ramsey-Williams. “But we did get it together.”

Junior goalie Mei Rader, who made several key stops, utilized a Zen-like method during Twin Valley’s momentum. 

“Staying calm and trying to focus,” said Rader. “Not worrying too much.”

Archbishop Carroll Coach Lorraine Beers celebrates her fourth consecutive state title and fifth overall.

Ava Talago finished off a dominant state championship win with a last-second goal - Video by John Knebels

Strong goaltending by Mei Rader allowed Archbishop Carroll to open a big lead - Video by John Knebels

Sure enough, the Patriots steadied the ship by scoring twice in the first 2:03 of the second quarter. From that point, the victory appeared all but assured.

“This was a great team,” said Carroll coach Lorraine Beers. “They really stepped up.”

Explaining Carroll’s success, most Patriots pointed to challenging practices and an unwavering dedication to teammate support.

“When we need to come together, we do,” said Talago. “We have a lot of talk on defense, which helps us so much. We just work really well as a team. At practice, we push each other a lot. We have a lot of our alums come back and play us. When you play at such a high level, you’re ready for whatever happens in these games.

“One of the things about this team is that we are all so close. I know that when I came in as a freshman, we were best friends with the seniors, and it’s like that every year. You’re not put down because you’re younger. We all do our part.”

Jayanna Ramsey-Williams helped spearhead Archbishop Carroll’s strong defensive unit - PSD Video by John Knebels

Samantha Hewitt relished her first state championship in an Archbishop Carroll uniform - PSD Video by John Knebels

Seniors (L-R) Brooke Hippert, Jayanna Ramsey-Williams, Sienna Golden & Chloe Bleckley all collected 4 straight gold medals.

Becoming Pennsylvania’s first girls’ lacrosse program to win four straight titles reminded Bleckley of June 12, 2021, when Carroll upended Strath Haven, 14-6, in the PIAA final.

“Freshman year,” said Bleckley. “We got it done, and (the then-freshmen that included Golden, Hippert, and Ramsey-Williams) just looked at each other like, ‘We’re winning all four,’ and we accomplished it today.”

Those four players have a total of 16 gold medals to prove it.

One for each goal of their final high school game.

(Contact John Knebels at or on 'X' @johnknebels.)