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Embracing its underdog mentality, Twin Valley set for third straight meeting against Archbishop Carroll in PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse final

In what can perhaps best be described as the David and Goliath matchup of Pennsylvania girls lacrosse, Twin Valley will again meet Archbishop Carroll for the PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse title Saturday at Panzer Stadium at Penn State at 10 a.m.

The Raiders (21-6), the three-time reigning District 3 champions, have fallen to the Patriots, the District 12 champion and three-time reigning state champions, in the final in each of the past two seasons. And three years ago, Archbishop Carroll bested Twin Valley in the state semifinals.

The Patriots (20-2) have won 23 straight Philadelphia Catholic League titles, while the Raiders have become a local dynasty in their own right, having won three of the last four BCIAA titles.

“It’s really exciting to go (to the state final) again,” Twin Valley senior defender Chelsea Hurley said. “It’s hard to go there one time, let alone we’ve had the opportunity to go three times.

“We’ve had such great leadership above us and I’m so glad that we are able to be leaders this year.”

Twin Valley senior defender Chelsea Hurely. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Twin Valley senior defender Chelsea Hurely. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

And while the numbers and history seem to favor Archbishop Carroll, the Raiders are embracing their role heading into Saturday, as they have done throughout the state tournament.

Twin Valley defeated Villa Maria Academy 10-9 in redemptive fashion on Tuesday in the PIAA semifinals after falling to the Hurricanes 9-8 in the regular season.

“We lost to Villa this year and so I think that there was that (underdog) mentality,” Raiders head coach Courtney Kaplan said following Tuesday’s win. “We’re the underdog right now, we have nothing to lose and I love that feeling. I think we operate great under those circumstances.

Twin Valley head coach Courtney Kaplan. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Twin Valley head coach Courtney Kaplan. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

“So I’m hoping that we take it into Saturday and have that same mentality and that same fight.”

Twin Valley has responded well when faced with adversity throughout the season.

After being battle-tested by a series of top opponents early on in the regular season and going 1-3, the Raiders advanced to the BCIAA championship where they lost to Wilson 14-8, breaking a three-year county championship winning streak.

Since then, Twin Valley has won seven in a row, including a 7-4 District 3 championship win over Wyomissing, and only Villa Maria has scored more than five goals on the Raiders. In total, Twin Valley has an 84-30 goal differential over that span.

Twin Valley celebrates their third consecutive District 3 Class 2A Girls Lacrosse title following their victory on Tuesday over Wyomissing at Wyomissing's Bob Wolfrum Field. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Twin Valley celebrates their third consecutive District 3 Class 2A Girls Lacrosse title following their victory over Wyomissing at Wyomissing’s Bob Wolfrum Field. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Additionally, a 4-3 deficit after the first quarter against the Hurricanes has been the lone time the Raiders have trailed in the state tournament.

“I feel like we had to grind a lot harder to get here; it gets harder each year,” Kaplan said. “I feel like that’s why these guys appreciate it so much because they did come from a tougher season. We had the toughest regular season that we’ve ever had, and that’s hard; it’s hard on them to be able to come back from a loss, but it’s all coming together.

Twin Valley sophomore Ellie Kaplan controls the ball against Villa Maria Academy in a PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse semifinal at Reiffton. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Twin Valley sophomore Ellie Kaplan controls the ball against Villa Maria Academy in a PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse semifinal at Reiffton. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

“They’re putting it together and they all seem very happy, very relaxed and I feel like having fun and being grateful is the key to success.”

Having fun indeed, Twin Valley’s parents and supporters make a point to decorate the team bus in extravagant fashion before each game, and many senior members have taken time away from vacations over the past week in order to make practice in a push for a title.

A member of the dynasty since its beginnings four years ago in 2021 when the Raiders won the program’s first county championship, All-Berks senior Anna Givens sees Saturday’s game as an opportunity to cement the greatness Twin Valley has been working towards.

“It would mean everything because we haven’t gotten that yet, “Anna Givens said. “As a senior, I’ve been working for that since freshman year. That (championship) would mean everything to me and make me so happy.”

Twin Valley senior Anna Givens protects the ball against Villa Maria Academy in a PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse semifinal at Reiffton. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

Givens leads Twin Valley in scoring with 68 goals and 41 assists (109 points) and is followed up on the list by three other All-Berks selections. Sophomore Ellie Kaplan, a draw control specialist, is second on the team with 65 goals and 43 assists (108 points), senior Hadley Munn is third with 52 goals and 35 assists (87 points) and junior Kylie Duke ranks fourth with 62 goals and 17 assists (79 points).

Twin Valley senior Hadley Munn sprints against Villa Maria Academy in a PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse semifinal at Reiffton. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Twin Valley senior Hadley Munn charges against Villa Maria Academy in a PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse semifinal at Reiffton. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

Lynzee Anderson and Steph Dunbar share time in goal for the Raiders, and Dunbar made two crucial saves late in the game against the Hurricanes to help preserve the win.

Twin Valley goalie Stephanie Dunbar makes a save late in the Raiders' 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2A semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter's Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Twin Valley goalie Stephanie Dunbar makes a save late in the Raiders’ 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2A semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

A well-rounded squad, Hurley said she believes that Twin Valley’s success comes from a sound understanding of sharing the spotlight.

“I think we really work as a team and try to be there for each other,” Hurley said. “We really work on taking your spot and knowing your role on the field.”

Twin Valley junior Kylie Duke, left, and Twin Valley senior Amelia Wood, right, celebrate following a goal in a PIAA Class 2A semifinal against Villa Maria Academy at Reiffton. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

To make the final, the Patriots defeated District 1 champion Bishop Shanahan 4-1. After being tied at 1-1, a yellow card for the Eagles allowed Archbishop Carroll to score three unanswered goals over a 74-second stretch in the third quarter.

Sharing in Hurley’s sentiments, Givens believes that the Raiders’ steadfast belief in and commitment to each other will create a powerful sense of confidence ahead of another colossal clash.

“It’s just always supporting each other and talking through things; we really care for each other,” Givens said. “Obviously coming back again, we haven’t won in the past, but just the mentality that we can do this, we can make it there and we want this, that’s all we’re trying to think about. We’re really excited to get to Penn State to work together and start the team bonding over the next practices.”

The Twin Valley girls lacrosse team after defeating Chartiers Valley in a PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse quarterfinal. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
The Twin Valley girls lacrosse team after defeating Chartiers Valley in a PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse quarterfinal. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)


Source: Berkshire mont

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