Maidens Fall to Cougars in Quarterfinals

WEST CHESTER – Sometimes lacrosse becomes nothing more than a game of possession.

Possess the ball, and good things will invariably happen. The opposite is also true.
North Penn found that out in a hurry in Saturday’s District One AAAA quarterfinal game against Springfield on Saturday.
Less than 10 minutes had elapsed when the Maidens found themselves staring at a 6-1 deficit. In that span, they’d had the ball in their offensive end just twice. One trip had resulted in a goal by Danielle Horn, the other, a turnover near the crease before managing a shot.
The Spartans, meanwhile, had six trips into their offensive end and six goals to show for it. That trend continued for much of a first half that saw the Cougars open up an 11-4 lead on their way to a 17-8 win in one of four quarterfinal contests played at West Chester East High School.
“They’re a good team,” Horn said. “They beat us to draw controls. They weren’t stopping us on attack, but they were beating us to the draw controls.
“They were boxing us out, stepping in front of us. It comes down to heart and desire on draws. It’s a 50-50 ball, and they were getting in front of us.”
The Maidens were actually relatively effective when they had the ball on attack. Unfortunately, their possessions were limited, thanks to the Cougars’ dominance on draws.
“I don’t think they had many stops on us,” Maiden coach Jami Wilus said. “We had eight goals and maybe 12 possessions on the offensive end, so that’s a pretty good percentage.
“So it comes down to draw controls. They had some tall girls on the circle, but even more than that, they got position, and they were able to box out and get some of the loose balls inside the circle.
“They’re a good team. We knew that was one of their strengths. They have three middies that are all about 5-11, and that definitely creates an advantage on the circle.”
That advantage was evident from the outset as the Cougars won the opening draw, and 48 second later got on the scoreboard when senior Shannon Burns scored on a free position. It was her first of six goals on the day.
The Cougars won the ensuing draw, and this time it was sophomore Nathalie Basunga scoring.
 The Maidens won the next draw but lost the ball before they managed a shot, and the opportunistic Cougars capitalized. This time it was freshman Alex Poplawski connecting to put the Cougars on top 3-0 less than five minutes into the game.
“What’s unique about them is – with a lot of teams, you can shut down one or two players, but they seem to have seven attackers that were a threat at all times,” Wilus said. “You couldn’t really take one or two out of the game because you had to be aware of everyone else.”
A Maiden timeout did not slow down the Cougars’ momentum, and it was Burns scoring off the draw to extend Springfield’s lead to 4-0.
“It just seemed like they were where the ball was,” Abbie Hartman said. “We didn’t move quick enough to where the ball was being placed, and they were first to the ball every time.”
A goal by Horn put the Maidens on the scoreboard, but the Cougars went on top 6-1 before the Maidens scored back-to-back goals by Halie Lear and Hartman to make it a 6-3 game at the 15:05 mark.
The Cougars answered with a 4-0 run to go on top 10-3 before Hartman scored. Another Burns goal sent the Cougars into halftime with a commanding 11-4 lead.
“I think if we had gotten some stops at the beginning and maybe controlled the draw, it would have been a little bit different,” Wilus said. “It’s hard to fight back against a team like that. They’re a good team.”
The Cougars opened up a 13-4 lead before Garrie Grenfell scored for the Maidens, and Springfield stretched its lead to 15-5 before Hartman – who led the Maidens with four goals – connected on back-to-back goals after strong individual efforts.
The Maidens would get no closer than nine the rest of the way as the Cougars rolled to the decisive win.
“We have to take tomorrow off and relax and then come back and refocus Monday at practice and see what Downingtown East is all about,” Wilus said. “Hopefully, we can get back out there on Tuesday and win that game.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed that we lost, but they played better than we did. It happens sometimes. We just need to take it in stride and come back and win the next one.”
Downingtown East - which fell to Great Valley 10-6 - is the Maidens’ foe in Tuesday’s playback game. North Penn is one of four teams battling for the three remaining state playoff berths.
“Tuesday we’re going to come out so determined and so hungry because we need to win,” Hartman said. “There’s no other way. We need to win that game.
“I can’t wait. We’re definitely ready. There’s definitely some fire underneath our butts.”
“Tuesday it’s a whole new game,” Horn added. “It’s a whole new slate – 0-0. We have to continue to stay focused and play with heart and desire.
“This is it. We’re in the top eight – this is what it comes down to. This is what we worked out entire season for. We have worked way too hard to let it go.”
North Penn        4              4-8
Springfield (Delco)           11           6-17
Goals/Assists: North Penn – Abbie Hartman 4-0, Danielle Horn 1-1, Halie Lear 1-0, Garrie Grenfell 1-0, Stacey Pellechia 1-0. Springfield – Shannon Burns 6-0, Nathalie Basunga 4-0, Alex Poplawski 2-2, Maddy Lynch 2-0, Courtney Kennedy 1-1, Lindsey Mace 1-1, Valerie Paolucci 1-0.            
Shots: NP-17, S-24.
Saves: Sarah Prall (NP) – 7, Janel Folkomer (S) 6.