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Twin Valley advances to third straight PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse final with win over Villa Maria Academy

The Twin Valley girls lacrosse team earned yet another chance to bring home the ultimate prize, as the Raiders defeated Villa Maria Academy 10-9 in a PIAA Class 2A girls lacrosse semifinal Tuesday night at Reiffton.

In search of its third straight appearance in the state championship game, with the score tied at 7-7 heading into the fourth, Twin Valley scored three unanswered goals before holding on defensively for the win.

With the win, the Raiders (21-6) will face a familiar foe in Archbishop Carroll, a 4-1 winner of Bishop Shanahan Tuesday, on Saturday in the final at Penn State’s Panzer Stadium. The District 12 champion Patriots (19-2), are the three-time defending state champions and have bested Twin Valley in the past two finals.

And while redemption has surely been on the Raiders’ minds, for a team whose culture built on togetherness, the most important thing is simply seeing another game.

“We were thinking that we want to spend every day together that we can,” Twin Valley senior defender Chelsea Hurley said of the team’s mindset in the fourth quarter. “This could have been our last day together, but we wanted to keep fighting and get those three more days together.

Twin Valley senior Chelsea Hurley. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Twin Valley senior Chelsea Hurley. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

“We’re really excited to get to spend this time together and to have the possibility to win a state championship.”

Sophomore Ellie Kaplan, who finished the game with a game-high 12 draw controls, won the opening draw of the fourth quarter before the Raiders began to control possession and shift the momentum.

After working the ball in front of and around the back of the goal for a couple minutes, senior Anna Givens fired a shot high into the net with 10:27 left in the game for an 8-7 lead.

With nine minutes to go junior Kylie Duke failed to score following a penalty for Twin Valley, which led to the Hurricanes, the District 1 runners-up, regaining possession and controlling the ball for several minutes.

After Villa Maria took a timeout with 7:03 to go, the Hurricanes (18-7) continued to push their offense and record shots.

Steph Dunbar made a clutch save in front of goal with 4:50 to go that jumpstarted a counterattack by the Raiders. Leading the transitional push, Givens carried the ball a majority of the way up field before charging in on goal and scoring to make it 9-7.

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)

Fellow senior Ameila Wood added insurance and scored from the free position with 2:41 to go.

“It felt really good,” Givens said on scoring the fourth-quarter goals. “It’s always nice to get ahead, but those goals definitely meant something to get us to where we are now. So I was just really happy that I could pull it off, and I’m so blessed that I have a team that can help me do that.”

Anna Givens shoots and scores Twin Valley's ninth goal in the Raiders' 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2A lacrosse semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter's Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Anna Givens shoots and scores Twin Valley’s ninth goal in the Raiders’ 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2A lacrosse semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The goals proved pivotal as the Hurricanes mounted a strong comeback over the final two minutes. Villa Maria scored with 1:08 left and Sophia Trey closed out the scoring for the Hurricanes with 44 seconds left and was assisted by Kayla Cellucci.

Despite the late scoring surge, Kaplan scooped up a loose ball with 40 seconds left after winning the final draw, and Twin Valley protected the ball for the remainder of regulation to secure the win.

“They did get us a couple times, making it close, which was nerve wracking,” Raiders coach Courtney Kaplan said. “I thought that they kept their composure. We had great defensive holds today. I thought our offense played great. The draw was important and I think we came out (ahead) on the draw.

“Our bus is all decorated with hearts because we have the most heart so I think we took that out on the field today.”

The heart was apparent at the onset as well as the finish, as Twin Valley started to run away with the game early on. The Raiders scored the first two goals following penalties, as junior Kylie Duke scored with 10:13 left in the first and Ellie Kaplan scored with 8:30 to go.

Following another draw control by Ellie Kaplan, senior Hadley Munn scored unassisted from the run of play with eight minutes to go.

However, a goal by Allison Meyer put Villa Maria on the board with 3:20 left in the first, and three goals by Sophia Trey over the final two minutes of the period gave the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead after the first.

Undeterred by the momentum swing, Ellie Kaplan took the opening draw control of the second quarter and scored the opening goal of the period from the free position with 10:14 remaining.

Ellie Kaplan scores Twin Valley's fourth goal in the Raiders' 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2A lacrosse semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter's Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Ellie Kaplan scores Twin Valley’s fourth goal in the Raiders’ 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2A lacrosse semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

After briefly losing the lead, Ellie Kaplan worked her way through the Villa Maria defense and tied the game once more at 5-5 with 7:50 left before halftime.

Ellie Kaplan bursts through a crowd and scores Twin Valley's fifth goal in the Raiders' 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2A lacrosse semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter's Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Ellie Kaplan bursts through a crowd and scores Twin Valley’s fifth goal in the Raiders’ 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2A lacrosse semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

And despite trailing multiple times for the first time during this state tournament, Twin Valley never lost its determined spirit.

“I think we were playing really smart and we were playing safe but to the point where we were still making big plays,” Givens said. “We were holding them and just keeping everyone talking. Communication is really key for us, and just grit and heart.

“Heart is our word for our team, and I think every player on the field and on our sidelines played with heart and they really are a great team to have.”

Munn’s second goal of the game gave Twin Valley the lead once more with 1:52 left in the first half, and Duke scored her second goal of the game with 39.1 seconds before halftime and was assisted by Givens.

On the play, Givens passed to Duke from behind the net, as Duke made a strong move into the middle in front of the goal crease.

Kylie Duke scores Twin Valley's seventh goal in the Raiders' 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2Alacrosse semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter's Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Kylie Duke scores Twin Valley’s seventh goal in the Raiders’ 10-9 victory over Villa Maria in the PIAA Class 2Alacrosse semifinal on Tuesday at Exeter’s Don Thomas Stadium. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

For Courtney Kaplan, making the most on opportunities awarded from penalties was key.

“You have to take advantage of those times because they don’t happen all the time,” Courtney Kaplan said. “For us being able to capitalize is important and we were able to do that.”

In the third quarter, Trey scored the 100th goal over her career two minutes into the second half and Elle Toto tied it at 7-7 for the Hurricanes another two minutes later.

Twin Valley lacrosse coach Courtney Kaplan watches on the sidelines 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 lacrosse coach Courtney Kaplan watches on the sidelines 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)

Both defenses played tight coverage throughout the third quarter and forced each other’s offense into turnovers on several occasions.

For the Raiders, Ellie Kaplan finished with three goals and one assist, Givens ended with two goals and one assist, Duke and Munn each closed out with two goals and Wood had one goal.

Lynzee Anderson, who started the first half in net, made one save and Dunbar finished the game with two after starting in the second half.

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

“They each get a half and they’ve got to show up on their half,” Courtney Kaplan said. “And until they’re not, that’s what we’ll keep doing. We’ll keep sticking with what we’re doing, I guess it was the right decision for us because Steph came up big with that last shot.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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