SOL Girls' Lacrosse Crowns Four Champions (Sponsored by Black Bear Lacrosse)

Last year, the SOL crowned five SOL girls’ lacrosse champions – two in the National Conference (North Penn and Pennsbury) and three in the American Conference (Springfield Twp, Upper Dublin and Upper Moreland).

This year, there are four champions with two in each conference. Pennsbury, Springfield Twp and Upper Dublin repeated as champions while Pennridge captured its first program title in 35 years. Each team has taken its own unique journey to the top.

Pennridge: SOL National Conference Co-Champs
Call it mission accomplished for coach Karen Feher and the Lady Rams, who clinched a share of the conference crown with last Friday’s win over Council Rock South.
“This is what we wanted all along,” Pennridge senior Ava Fantaskey said. “We’ve known Schnurr (Feher) has wanted this the past 10 years. We all owe it to her kind of thing, and we owe it to ourselves. We knew we wanted the league, we knew we could do it.”
It's been a long, long time between championships for the Lady Rams. Pennridge’s last championship in girls’ lacrosse was 1989, and if Feher and her players needed any reminders, they got one every morning during winter workouts.
“Every time we would be running sprints, I’d tell the girls to look up to the banner because the last time that Pennridge won the league was 1989,” said Feher, who – in an unusual coincidence – was born in1989. “Looking up at that banner, that would be our motivation.”
The Lady Rams had not only gone decades without a conference crown, but when Feher took over the reins of the struggling program after the 2014 season, the Lady Rams had not had a winning season since 2010. Changing that trend was Feher’s immediate goal.
In her first season, the Lady Rams were 10-8.
“I just remember being so proud to – after five years – change to a winning program,” Feher said. “Obviously, in my 10 years, we’ve had, I’ll call them hiccoughs – we had two losing seasons.”
One of those was during the COVID-shortened season, but those two seasons aside, the program’s improvement has been pronounced under Feher. For the past three years, Pennridge has advanced to the District 1 3A playoffs.
“The last three years, there’s been a significant jump in our play and in the talent we have, and I think a lot of that is the feeder program and the continuity of me being the coach and working with the feeder program,” Feher said. “When I came on 10 years ago, my goal was to have a winning season. Being able to go to playoffs for the last three years in a row speaks volumes.”
Feher’s ultimate goal was to add her team to the banner, a goal that was elusive.
Until this year.
In a script that is something close to storybook, the Lady Rams clinched a share of the SOL National Conference crown in what is Feher’s final season at the helm.
“I feel like from the start we all were hungry for it and were ready to win,” Fantaskey said. “It feels really good as a team. It brought tears to many of our eyes (when we won at CR South) because it was just so exciting. We were so happy for us as a team but also for our coaching staff because it is an end for them too, not just for us as seniors. It’s an end of an era, honestly.”
Ask the senior captains the key to their team’s success, and they echo similar sentiments.
“Most of us have been playing together since elementary school, so we’ve gotten used to the way each other plays, and we’ve really built up over the past five-plus years,” Kendall Posey said. “Having that experience with each other, not just people that are coming up first year to this, but having played with them forever really makes us bond well together on and off the field.”
Added Kate Unzicker, “Our team this year is very close on and off the field, so I think that’s definitely helped us. It’s helped our chemistry on the field definitely. We all work so well together, and we all can talk to each other, and I think that definitely has had a huge impact on our success this year.”
The season was not without its speed bumps. The Rams lost their first two games of the season.
“At the beginning of the season, we were like ‘uh oh, we have to pick it up,’ and that honestly lit a fire under us to come to practice ready, come more prepared,” Fantaskey said. “We told each other – we have to take this seriously. We had conversations where we were like – ‘We have a chance at it this year. Either we’re going to make it that way or not. We have to choose our path.’ We ended up choosing the right one and finishing strong.”
After rolling to eight straight wins in league play, the Lady Rams fell to Pennsbury in their second last game of the season, making Friday’s game at Council Rock South in the cold and rain a must win. And win they did, downing the Hawks 12-7.
“It’s been since 1989 since we’ve won a league title, so just embracing that is insane – it’s been so many years,” Posey said. “We’ve worked so hard, and it’s still setting in, but it feels amazing.”
Feher acknowledged that it’s been a mixed bag of emotions to win a title in her final season.
“My daughter was born two years ago, and I had contemplated (stepping down) since then,” she said. “Now I’m expecting my second any day now, so it’s very much bittersweet because this has been my family - my program has been my family.
“Now I have a family of my own, so the decision to walk away has been a very, very hard and emotional one, but I know whoever takes over the program – I’m going to leave them in great hands.”
With her second child due on June 5, Feher has not been riding the bus with her team and – so far – is heeding the pleas of her players to hold off having the baby as the team prepares to compete in the District 1 3A Tournament.
“It hit me after we won on Friday, and it hit me even more when I was driving home,” the Rams’ coach said. “All of the years that I’ve been coaching and all of the girls I’ve coached and all of the moments. Bittersweet is the best way to put it. I’m just so proud of where we’ve come from.
“To do it in my final season is the ribbon to close out this amazing chapter I’ve had, this decade that I’ve had as the Pennridge head coach.”
The Rams, who have an opening round bye, will host Plymouth Whitemarsh in Thursday’s second round.
“We’re not done, but as a team, we’re all very close, and we have such a good bond and such a good tie together,” Fantaskey said. “All of our intensity matches each other’s, and it clicked perfectly this year.
“What I’ll remember the most about this are all the friendships because they really mean a ton – they mean the world to all of us, I know that because this is our life right now. This is what is making our high school experience the best it can be.”

Pennsbury: SOL National Conference Co-Champs
For the second time in two years, the Falcons own a share of the SOL National Conference crown. Although the destination is the same, the journey certainly was not.
Last year, the Falcons took a perfect 9-0 league record into their final league game against a North Penn team with one loss. The Falcons fell to the Knights and were forced to share the conference title.
Fast forward to this year.
The Falcons rolled to a perfect 5-0 record but then fell to Council Rock North in their sixth game. They entered the final week of the season trailing Pennridge by one game with a trip to Pennridge on their schedule. The Falcons edged the Lady Rams 10-7 and needed only a win over North Penn to capture a share of the conference crown. They took care of business and a share of a second title was theirs.
“Going into the Pennridge game, the girls knew the importance of it, but I didn’t believe they fully grasped it until we actually won,” Pennsbury coach Marguerite Piccolo said. “We were on the opposite end just last year, which the majority of the girls experienced, and being the underdog is all they needed.
“Our captains – Mia (Popovich), Chelsea (Todd) and Grace (Holmes) – came out strong, leading the team and setting the tone in our win against Pennridge.”
Heading into the 2024 season, the Falcons lost a pair of seniors from last year’s title squad.

“I knew losing our two seniors was going to be a challenge, especially our midfielder Liv Graebner,” Piccolo said. “Liv always came up clutch in those tight games when we needed an answer.”
Listening to the three captains tell it, they had decidedly high expectations.
“My personal expectations of winning the SOL were high since we only lost two seniors,” Holmes said. “We started the season strong, playing a great game against Avon Grove, but throughout the season we faced tough teams, and we had to continue to work harder to get the goal of winning the SOL.”
“Going into the season, everyone had the same mindset of winning the league again,” Todd said. “We knew the league was going to be harder this year, and we would have to rise up.
“Each practice, we knew we had to go hard, pretending it was game day.”
“Going into the season, the main goal was to win the SOL for the second year in a row,” Popovich said. “But going along with that, we as a team wanted to stay together through every game and play for each other.”
Playing no small part in the team’s success – according to the captains – is their close camaraderie.
“Friendship has been the key to our success,” Holmes said. “We all have stuck together and supported one another. Even when things got hard, we would circle up and talk about what we could do to change that. I believe being so close helped us win in the end.”
It was that bond that kept the team together during tough times.
“Like every good team, we did have our obstacles, but the key to our team’s success was staying together and supporting one another,” Todd said. “On the field, we played for each other and were selfless.”
Added Popovich, “Having the mindset of winning the SOL and playing for each other helped to contribute to our overall success. In addition, preparation was something as a team we always felt because of the dedication of our coaches. We are able to feel ready for any game.”
Piccolo credits the contributions of her assistant coach.
“I have an amazing assistant coach, Kelly White, who has been coaching for 20-plus years, not all at Pennsbury,” Piccolo said. “She is extremely knowledgeable in the game and has evolved with it. Coming into the program last year, I realized I had an advantage simply by having Coach White on my team. Her ability to scout a team and prepare the girls for the game- is truly astonishing. Winning back-to-back SOL titles is pretty amazing.
“I know at times, we were hard on them, pushing them to be the best athlete they can be, but it’s because we as coaches believe in them and know their potential. We know it’s not always easy to hear what ‘us’ coaches have to say, but this season they proved to not only us but most importantly themselves that they can overcome adversity and push through the tough times.”
As much as the players enjoy winning, it’s much more than that.
“I have greatly enjoyed the bonds I have created with my teammates,” Popovich said. “It is a great group of girls, and we all get along very well.
“With the bonds we have created and sticking together through the hard practices and games helped us to become really close, so, during games, we were really able to connect and come together to pull out big wins.”
“I’ve also enjoyed forming tight bonds with all of my teammates because it enhanced our team’s performance, making wins more meaningful,” Todd said. “I am so proud of the work my teammates and I put in because it all pays off.”

Upper Dublin: SOL American Conference Co-Champs
It was a season of high expectations.
The Flying Cardinals returned the nucleus of last year’s tri-championship squad. Throw in some ‘super talented freshmen’ – to steal a phrase from Olivia Broome – and there was clearly reason for optimism.
The Cardinals did not disappoint, winning a share of the conference title with Springfield Township. This team, according to their coach, is unique.
“They are one of the nicest group of girls I’ve ever coached and yet so competitive,” UD coach Dee Cross said. “Every practice they bring a different level of energy. Even if they’re distracted and talking about stuff, they can get refocused very quickly, and they always want to compete.
“That’s what makes it fun. We change things up in practice. I feel like our communication with the coaching staff and the players has been great. I think they really appreciate the time and effort we put in, and we show them we appreciate the time and effort they put in, and it’s been a really fun year all around.”
Ask the players the key to their team’s success, and there’s more than one reason.
“The key is working together and doing certain things at practice to prepare for games,” senior Paige Dinkel said.
“(I enjoy) the team dynamic and how we are able to work hard while also having fun.
“We never blame each other for mistakes and play as a team every game.”

“Communication has been a major key,” junior Abby O’Meara added. “We really connect well and work with each other by talking on the field.
“Our chats during halftime definitely spark everyone and encourage us to keep pushing during the game. We are also very verbal with each other and will express our thoughts at the right time.”
There’s also the not-so-little-matter of senior captain Erin Darcy volunteering to move from her spot in the defensive backfield to handle the often thankless – and always difficult job – of playing goalie.
“Her choice single-handedly changed the trajectory of our season,” junior Sophia Sirianni said. “She continues to develop every day as a goalie. In all honesty, it is mind-boggling.
“Never once did I doubt that Erin has that coveted goalie mentality. She knows how to separate emotion from her play. Nothing seems to shake her.
“Playing low defense, I can see the wheels turning after every single play. She stays involved and isn’t scared to give us input. Having someone with strong directionality and passion for the game in the net fuels the rest of the team. Erin always has something positive to say, even after a tough loss. Her overall presence on the field settles any nerves for me as I have complete trust in her.”
Broome echoed similar sentiments.
“Erin has been awesome,” Broome said. “If I didn’t know Erin, I’m not sure I would believe you if you told me this is her first time ever playing goalie. She has been a leader by example, showing what it means to step up and be a team player. She has been a leader on the field, constantly communicating with us on defense, but perhaps most importantly, she has been a leader off the field. Erin has done so much for our team this year on and off the field, and we are so lucky to have her.”
In addition, according to Broome, the players understand their roles.
“We trust each other on the field,” she said. “During intense games, our coaches always tell us to ‘not do anything above what we can do,’ and for me personally, that always relieves my stress. It assures me that I just have to play how I always do. I don’t have to score goals or be the hero. I just have to play my role and trust my teammates to play theirs.”
That trust is built both on and off the field.
“Personally, I believe what makes our team work on the field is what we do off the field,” junior Anna DiMartile said. “Whether it’s getting Rita’s after practice or getting brownies from PJs after a big win, I’d say having great friendships and chemistry off the field benefits us greatly on the field.
“Our team is on the smaller side, but I think that helps everybody to really get to know each other and be friends with one another.”
According to Sirianni, the friendship the players share translates to their play on the field.
“We have never had any issues ‘gelling’ as a team, which is essential for working together on the field,” she said. “The undying trust between every player on the team allows us to keep pushing our limits. This is evident in both our games and practices. If anyone were to spectate a game or practice, you can see the dancing between drills, the chatting after sets and cracking jokes followed by booming laughter, but this never deters the seriousness of our play.
“Along with this, I call our coaches ‘my second moms’ as they help me to develop into a better lacrosse player and growing adult.”
On Thursday, Upper Dublin – which had an opening round bye – will host Boyertown in a second round game.
“Our team is motivated by the future and outcome,” O’Meara said. “We want to go as far as we can this season, and the only way we can do that is to keep working hard. We all believe that if we can see ourselves doing great things, then it can really happen.”

Q&A with the Flying Cardinals
What have your enjoyed most about this team?

Sophia Sirianni:  What I enjoy most about our team this season is the unrelenting effort to keep succeeding. Playing defense may not be the most decorated position, but my teammates and coaches never fail to make me feel appreciated. Going to practice every day and being around these girls is incomparable to anything. This team has become a family, and I am proud to be a contributor to it. This season has had many achievements - league co-champs, Coach Cross's 300th win, and Anna Dimartiles's 100 goals. It’s not only through the highs we hold each other up, but during devastating losses too. To put it simply, the people are what personally make this season so enjoyable, and the wins are the cherry on top.”
Olivia Broome: I have enjoyed how close we are as a team. A whole team. Varsity, JV, and coaches. I'm sure that everyone says that they have the ‘best’ coach, but they are lying because they don't have a Coach Cross, a Coach Borz, a Coach Finger, a Coach Bligen, or a Coach Sundling. Coach Cross and Coach Borz would never take credit for it, but they are the reason we have been so successful this year. They understand what being a teenage girl is like and hold us to high standards while still giving us breaks and the opportunity to do fun things. Those fun things, like watching baseball and having pasta parties, have prompted us to be super close as a team. I am so lucky to get to play my sport with my best friends, and so thankful for our coaches who have encouraged those friendships and allowed them to flourish.”  
Abby O’Meara: “This season I have enjoyed our team’s chemistry because I feel we are all very close with each other and understand everyone’s abilities. We push each other to work hard and be the greatest people we can be.
Anything else to add about your lacrosse experience?
Sophia Sirianni: No combination of words can perfectly encapsulate how important this team is to me. These girls have become the sisters I’ve never had. Our connection as players is attributed to our connection as friends. I can truthfully say that every person on this team holds a special place in my heart. The skills of our team push me to want to become a better player every day. I look up to every one of these girls regardless of their age or role on the team. I feel as though I can learn a new skill from every player, which fuels my want to be at practice every day. I thank Coach Cross, Borz, and Finger for helping us attain the dynamic we have. They are not just coaches, but mentors.”
Abby O’Meara: “Upper Dublin girls lacrosse stands out for many good reasons and that’s what makes this team so special. We are so lucky to have coaches, teachers, an athletic director, and an athletic trainer to support us through it all.
Olivia Broome:  I don't think I can truly put into words how special Upper Dublin girls’ lacrosse is to me. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to continue to play lacrosse in eighth grade, and now I could not imagine my high school experience without it. For the past three years, April and May have been my favorite months of the school year, mostly because of lacrosse. Singing bus rides, pre-practice naps, funny group chats, supporting the other spring sports, and fun Friday practices compose some of my best high school memories. Upper Dublin girls’ lacrosse has given me more than I could have ever fathomed in eighth grade. It has given me some of my closest friends, best memories, most joyful days, and funniest moments. I wake up every day thankful that my zip code falls under the Upper Dublin School District and even more grateful that I picked up a stick in fourth grade and didn't put it down in eighth.”

Springfield Township: SOL American Conference Co-champs
(The following article was written by Andrew Robinson for when the Spartans clinched a share of the SOL American Conference crown with a 14-11 win over Wissahickon.)
The tattoos, in theory, were supposed to be temporary.
Yet a few days later, the CHOP logo on Maddie McDevitt’s left arm looked about as fresh as it did when she applied it. The Springfield Twp senior joked that it just won’t wash off and while several of her teammates have run into similar problems, they aren’t complaining about it.
Whether it’s supporting a teammate (the tattoos a lingering reminder of that), team trips or coming together to claim a title they expected to contend for, the Spartans have done it together.
“We had some freshmen or sophomores that at the start of the season maybe we weren’t as close with, but now I’m excited any time I see them in the hallways,” senior Emma Yoder said.
“I’m so close with every single person on this team and I think that goes for all of us.”

“We went to Florida as a team, which definitely helped so much,” senior Maddie McDevitt added. “Staying up at night talking to each other, going to the beach together, just having that time right at the beginning of the season, we’ve been so close ever since and I think that’s helping us win games because we want to play for each other.”
For their Senior Night game, the Spartans decided to use it for something else, a cause well worth a few stubborn temporary tattoos. Fiona Rizzo, one of the team’s eight seniors, has been able to play with her younger sister Frankie all year even as Frankie has dealt with a challenging condition.
“She got diagnosed with diabetes in 2021, and she’s one of our best friends,” McDevitt said of the sophomore attacker. “She struggled with it a little at the beginning, having to come out of games or sit out of some practices. So, for our Senior Night, we played for CHOP to raise money and just to support our teammate because it was a really important cause to all of us.”
Last season, the Spartans were part of a congested top of the SOL American table as part of a tri-championship with Upper Dublin and Upper Moreland. This year, the conference title still had to be split, but it was a much cleaner cut down the middle.
Although the Spartans had lost by a goal to Plymouth Whitemarsh, their 9-7 win over Upper Dublin on April 24 left the door open to claim an SOL title for a second straight year.
Upper Dublin’s win earlier in the day meant the Spartans had to go out and win against Wissahickon in their SOL finale in order to repeat as SOL American champs. Things didn’t start out great for the visitors, with Wissahickon taking a 2-0 lead and holding a 3-1 advantage after 12 minutes.
“We needed to get used to their zone, we just played against a man (defense) against Abington, so we had to get used to what they were doing,” McDevitt said. “Once we found the openings and how their back row was working, we started to get more opportunities to score.”
McDevitt, who had the team’s lone goal in the first quarter, paced the Spartans with four goals while adding two caused turnovers and four ground balls. The senior, who will play at Catholic University, and Yoder also helped control the draw control circle for Springfield Twp, although it took some time for the results to show.
After Wissahickon took a 4-2 lead in the second quarter it was Fiona Rizzo, who finished with a hat trick, getting two goals off assists from Samantha McDevitt to kick off a Spartans run. Maddie McDevitt added the next two goals, capping a 4-0 run for a 6-4 halftime lead.
“We were cutting and when we found the open girl, we were sending her through,” McDevitt said. “She wasn’t always the open cut, but we were finding that second girl and our attackers really worked together.”
Yoder, who has signed with Saint Joseph’s and will play with two Spartan alums in her older sister Maddie and Emily Smith next year, didn’t have a goal in the first half. The senior would get two early in the third as Springfield Twp took the period by a 6-2 margin to seize control of the game.
“We focused on keeping our energy high and to keep looking for the open girl,” Yoder said. “We just kept doing exactly what we had been doing. I think we were 70 percent on the draws in the first half, so we wanted to get that up to 80 percent.”
Both Maddie McDevitt and Yoder highlighted the team’s transition game as a catalyst in getting the goals to flow. It started with the two seniors not cheating toward midfield at the end of defensive possessions and instead coming back to the ball to help goalie Tess Talbot or the defensive unit.
“We needed to help our defense,” Yoder said. “We stayed back more, ran to the ball and even if a defender got to it, we could kick a second pass and that would lead to the fastbreak.”
Anticipating they would have a talented team this spring, the Spartans made sure to add some marque games to their schedule. On top of the trip to Florida, they faced perennial District 1 3A powers Springfield Delco and Garnet Valley, plus a Bishop Shanahan team in Class 2A that’s always a contender in the postseason.
It put a couple more losses on the team’s final tally but the team’s veterans know what the idea was as they prepare for the playoffs.
“We’re more ready for it,” McDevitt said. “Last year, our record might’ve said we were 17-1 and this year is worse on paper, but we’re more ready and we’re a stronger team.”
Even with their more challenging schedule, the Spartans find themselves in good standing for the playoffs, holding the No. 2 spot in the Class 2A rankings Wednesday night. In the fall, many of the girls on the team found themselves in the middle of the raucous student sections that followed the boys’ soccer team on its run to the state final.
Now, they’re hoping to spark a run of their own.
“The community at Springfield, it’s such a small school so everyone knows everyone else,” McDevitt said. “The soccer team got so much support going to states and I think they’re excited to come see us and they want us to make it that far because everyone experienced how fun it was going to those games and having that kind of student section.”