HERSHEY-Phyllis Kilgour has coached lacrosse since wooden sticks were in vogue. The legendary Radnor girls' lacrosse coach has seen her share of great players and great teams. But Saturday was cause enough to take a breath and pause for a moment when posed the question: Is this is the best team she's ever coached?
After Radnor won its second-straight PIAA girls' state lacrosse championship by dominating Central League archrival Springfield, 14-7, at Hersheypark Stadium, Kilgour was more than pleased to put her special stamp on this 2010 team.
"It's really hard for me to compare teams, because so much has changed in lacrosse, but yes, this team was the best I've ever had in I don't know how many years I've been coaching," said Kilgour, a smile beaming across her face still damp from the bucket shower her victorious team gave her. "We've had a lot of great, great teams and a lot of great, great players who have come through here at Radnor, but yeah, this group of girls and what they've done these last years, I'd have to say are the best team I've ever had."
Radnor will lose Kelyn Freedman, possibly the best female athlete in the school's history, to graduation this week. The Georgetown-bound senior sacrificed her considerable offensive skills to man up on Springfield's dangerous Shannon Burns on Saturday, holding Burns to one goal.
"That's Kelyn, and that's this entire team, they all think team first," Kilgour said. "Kelyn's a great defender to begin with, and it's probably what she's going to do in college. We've been playing great throughout the playoffs, and we didn't think about anything Springfield was going to do, we kept our focus on what we had to do to win. We also knew the first two times against Springfield wasn't our best effort."
This time, it was. Radnor, which finished 26-1 overall and is 50-2 over the last two years and 75-2 over the last three years, had struggled in the previous two victories over Springfield, which is 22-3, with all 3 losses coming against Radnor. But it wasn't like the Cougars weren't close. In the regular-season Central League game, Radnor fought back from a 6-1 deficit to win. In the PIAA District 1 title game, the Red Raiders had to mount a late comeback to win.
In the state championship, Radnor opened with a 5-0 lead, led by as much as 6-1 and were ahead 8-3 at halftime. Scoring came from Courtney Campbell (4 goals), Ali Martin (3 goals), Ellie Kraus (3 goals) and Freedman (2 goals).
Freedman, Campbell and Martin have all scored over 200 goals in their careers.
"I knew this game, where we would all come together and play as a team," Freedman said. "I kept saying all year we haven't played our best, we weren't playing our best, but I think we played our best today. I think we played our best game of the season at the right time. Springfield was a good team. We just hadn't played the way I know we were able to play."
The closest Springfield ever came was 10-6, on Nathalie Basunga's second goal of the game with a little less than 19 minutes left to play. And the Cougars pulled within 4 goals again at 11-7 with less than 10 minutes to play off a goal from Lauren Notfrancesco, only to have Kraus and Campbell to answer for Radnor.
"We were completely fired up for this," Martin said. "We realized this was the last chance the seniors would be together. We wanted to go out winners."
Now they go out as the best.
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