By MIKE MURPHY
WEST CHESTER — Great Valley's PIAA semifinal girls lacrosse started at 4 p.m., but the real drama started a short time later.
The Patriots (20-5) attempted comeback looked to be making stunning progress 10 minutes in the second half, but Springfield (Delco) weathered the storm en route to a 13-8 victory at J. Oscar Dicks Stadium at West Chester Henderson High School on Tuesday.The win puts the Cougars (24-2) into the state final against fellow Central League foe Garnet Valley on Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. Itwill be the second straight season that two teams from the league will battle it out for the title. Harriton beat Radnor in last year's championship game.
At the 18-minute mark, the Cougars' Emily Santana had just scored her hat-trick goal to give her team a commanding 10-4 lead. Great Valley was in dire need of a goal and Olivia Muscella was the one they turned to.The Patriots won the draw, something that did not occur often, and worked the ball down low into the Springfield zone.
"You live and die by it (draws),' said Great Valley coach Joe Tornetta. "When we were battling back there at the end Santana stepped up and got control of the draws. In the beginning, it was even as we were going back and forth with them. They took over and pulled away a little bit. It defiantly killed us today.'
LaSalle commit Brittany Edwards was handling the ball when she found an open Muscella cutting towards the net. The senior converted the pass as the Patriots bench erupted. They seemed to have Springfield on its heel to trail, 10-6.Edwards scored the fourth of her five goals when teammate Natalie Khan found her open for a sniper shot coming at 10:11. Suddenly the lead was shrunk to a four-goal disadvantage with plenty of time to spare.
"We never gave up hope', Edwards said. "We knew that if we played our game we had a chance and we just had to keep playing hard. If we gave up then there was no way of coming back'.
That hope became a little brighter as Khan found an open Courtney Cortese for her second goal of the game and a shot that trimmed the lead to 10-7 with 9:35 left.
Unfortunately the train of momentum for the Patriots would come to halt after Cortese's goal. In the ensuing minutes the Cougars played keep away trying to hold the lead and wear down Great Valley. Springfield pulled away in the last three minutes as Santana, Cailyn Gormley and Kate Ryan scored in less than a minute to book the Cougars' passage into the state final."We felt we had it going and just like the last time we played them we battled all the way back within three goals and had chances to get the second goal and couldn't put it away', Tornetta said. "We have two or three chances there to take it down to two goals and we just couldn't get it done. When we rushed quick shots and forced a bad passes at times. Natalie took a great shot and it went off the goalie's thigh, the goalie made a great save but if that goes in we have a two goal game and momentum is still swinging our way. Unfortunately like the last game we didn't get that and they go down, score, and win the next draw and take it back.''.
Tornetta urged his players not to give up hope at any time, he told them if they were going down, they better be swinging.
"We said at halftime, ' I don't care what happens, if we are going to go down, we want to go down fighting. Make them work for it untill the last second of the game,'' said Tornetta.
Getting stuck in a 7-2 hole in the first half put the Patriots at a great disadvantage as they had no choice but to try to claw back and fight for every possession.
"Part of the bad start was we couldn't hit the net,' added Tornetta. "We had some great looks at the net and totally missed early on, which really could have kept us in the game. To my kids' credit, they battled despite some shortcomings.'
"We felt the pressure but it's always good to feel pressure because you never want to play the game relaxed,' added Edwards. You need to come out and play your game and treat everything like it is all or nothing.'
Springfield (Delco) 13, Great Valley 8
Great Valley 2 6-- 8
Springfield (Delco) 7 6-- 13
Great Valley goals: Edwards 5, Cortese 2, Muscella.
Springfield (Delco): Santana 4, A.Gormley 2, Ryan 2, Spence 2, Whitaker, C. Gormley, Paulus.
Goalie Saves: Tornetta (GV) 8; Bedard (S) 11.