After winning its first two PIAA state games by two and one goals, the Springfield (Delco) girls' lacrosse team needed some breathing room. The Cougars got it during the second half of Tuesday's PIAA semifinal against Manheim Township.
Springfield snapped the Blue Streaks' 23-game winning streak - and spoiled their unbeaten season - with a 14-4 win in Shillington, Pa.
"We just came ready to play today. We had possession a lot of the time, and winning draws was key," said Springfield midfielder Valerie Paolucci, who is bound for St. Joseph's.
The win puts Springfield in position to get revenge on District 1 rival Radnor in the state final. The game will be played at noon Saturday at HersheyPark Stadium.
Springfield (22-2) received a well-rounded attack, as six players scored two goals apiece. The Cougars outshot Manheim Township (23-1) by 34-7.
"Widespread scoring is what makes us a very good team. Everyone knows how to put the ball in the back of the net," Paolucci said. "So the other team doesn't just think they need to look out for two girls. They need to look out for all of us because we can all go to goal."
"We preach that if you are an attack player you need to always be a threat," Springfield coach Keith Broome said.
In the second half the Cougars held possession, ran their offensive plays effectively, and took it to the more passive Manheim defense.
Last year, the Blue Streaks, who compete in District 3, played Radnor in the semifinals, and they are trying to get accustomed to playing Philadelphia-area teams.
"It's a shame we don't play these teams any time during the year except for tournaments," Manheim coach Lisa Lyons said. "There used to be a huge gap between Lancaster and Philly. Now, it's definitely shrinking."
The Red Raiders, last year's state champions, have a long history with the Cougars, including beating them twice this year - during the regular season and in the District 1 final.
"It's exciting because I didn't get to do it last year," Cougars sophomore Nathalie Basunga said of competing for a state title. "We are just going to try to do big things."
"We are just going to put it all out there," Paolucci said. "We will be ready to play. We aren't looking forward to anything else."
Springfield 3 11 – 14
Manheim Township 2 2 – 4
Goals: S-Courtney Kennedy 2, Shannon Burns 2, Valerie Paolucci 2, Lindsey Mace 2, Alex Poplawski 2, Nathalie Basunga 2, Michelle Gildea, Jenn Mahon; MT-Rachael Rosenfeld 2, Molly Hendrick, Megan Pinkerton.