by Tom Utescher
In seasons past Germantown Friends and George School have had some epic battles in lacrosse, but last Friday’s contest between the Tigers and the visiting Cougars wasn’t one of them.
George has been struggling this season, and Germantown cruised to a 14-2 triumph to remain in the thick of the title chase in the Friends Schools League. While the Cougars remained winless in the FSL (0-6) the Tigers, who won championship in 2009 and came in second to Friends Central a year ago, improved to 8-7 overall and 5-1 in league competition.
Leading the offense were senior Lyles Swift-Farley, with four goals, and junior Iris Williamson, with three goals and an assist. Williamson, still a junior, recently made a verbal commitment to play for the University of Pennsylvania. While Swift-Farley has not finalized her college plans, another senior starter, Sierra Carter-Gordon, has decided on Drexel.
With the win over George School, the Tigers maintained their third-place standing in the FSL behind co-leaders Friends Central and Shipley, who battled to a 9-9 tie when they met in the middle of April. Germantown has a showdown with Friends Central coming up this week, while Shipley shaded visiting GFS late last month, 14-13, accounting for the Tigers’ lone league loss.
Prior to Friday’s match, the team gave the upperclassmen a Senior Day send-off. In addition to Carter-Gordon and Swift-Farley, the Tigers honored Lily Tyson, who picked Wellesley College last fall, and the two goalies who split time against George School, Alex Gilliam and Elena Karras.
Gilliam, who came to GFS from Norwood Fontbonne Academy, will attend the New England Conservatory of Music, and Karras has chosen Carnegie Mellon University.
Facing one of their weaker rivals, the Tigers were able to use last Friday’s contest as an opportunity to fine-tune their game for the final stage of the season.
“We were really looking for midfield connections, making some nice solid passes,” Swift-Farley revealed. “Ground balls were also definitely something we were focusing on, since we’ve been a little weak on that lately.”
She noted that the players have also done some team bonding off the field.
“We’ve taken time out of practice to really unite,” the senior said. “The other day we read quotes to each other, some inspirational stuff.”
It took some time for the Tigers to really hit their stride last Friday. There were early scores by Williamson, Tyson, and Swift-Farley, but with a pair of goals from senior Kate Harkins, George School was only down 3-2 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Eventually, the Tigers realized that they had to choose and aim their shots more carefully against Cougars keeper Carly Rodgers, who amassed 14 saves during the match.
Back-to-back scores by Swift-Farley, assisted by Williamson and junior Annie Morrissey, put the Tigers up 5-2 with 6:44 remaining in the first half. By halftime, the hosts had strengthened their lead considerably, pumping the score up to 9-2 on strikes by Williamson, Swift-Farley, sophomore Anna Bezahler and junior Hannah Drake.
With the game well in hand, GFS was free to experiment with new plays on offense, one of them just introduced in the halftime huddle. The goals came at a more leisurely pace in the second half, but the Tigers still outscored their guests, 5-0, setting the final margin at an even dozen.
Tenth-graders Sophie Mercuris and Caryn Miller joined the list of goal scorers, while Morrissey (four assists) and junior classmate Isabella Didio (one goal, three assists) continued in their roles as playmakers.
GFS must now seek to sustain that offensive balance as it tackles tougher opponents in the final days of the 2011 campaign.