The direction the Garnet Valley girls' lacrosse team was headed took a dramatic turn in the last week of April with milestone wins over Harriton and Springfield (Delco).
Six weeks later, that new direction has steered the Jaguars (23-3) to the PIAA state championship game after a decisive, 16-6 tournament semifinal victory over Penn Manor (20-5) on Tuesday at Governor Mifflin.
Halley Barnes scored seven goals, Haley Warden netted three, Ally Heavens had two goals and three assists, and AnnaElise Morello and Kara Stroup combined for five assists to fuel the Garnet Valley offense.
The Jaguars' starting lineup includes just one senior, midfielder Natalie Lang, and also features junior goalie Kate Stroup (12 saves) and standout freshman defender Molly Savage.
"To be honest," said second-year Jaguars coach Kate Henwood, who graduated from the school in 2001, "we knew we were going to be better than ever before. If we kept putting our best effort out there, we'd be able to create something special.
"When we beat Harriton [17-12 on April 26], Springfield [13-12 on April 29], and Conestoga [10-9 on May 12], that gave us tremendous confidence. Those were three huge wins for the program."
Garnet Valley will face Downingtown East for the state championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at HersheyPark Stadium in a rematch of the District 1 final. Downingtown East beat the Jaguars, 22-12, in that game on May 26.