by Tom Utescher
For the second time this spring, the Germantown Friends and Shipley School lacrosse teams had the scoreboard straining to keep up with the pace of their scoring.
In the first meeting, back in the last week of April, the Shipley Gators pulled out a 14-13 regular season victory. Last Tuesday the GFS Tigers, the visiting team once again, stepped out to an 11-6 halftime lead in a Friends Schools League playoff semifinal, and went on to win, 17-12.
Germantown’s Annie Morrissey scored five goals in the first half and assisted one in the second, while fellow junior Iris Williamson notched three of her four goals after the intermission, earning her two assists during the first period.
Out of their three goalie options the Tigers went with senior Alex Gilliam, who turned aside a total of 15 Shipley shots.
“Alex played great and really kept her head in the game,” noted Tigers head coach Katie Bergstrom. “Isabella Didio [a junior] had the game of her life; she had ground ball after ground ball. Once our offense settled in we had six different scorers. That made a difference, spreading it around.”
Didio finished with a hat trick and senior Lyles Swift-Farley logged two goals and an assist, while the Tigers also had junior Hannah Drake and sophomore Anna Bezahler add two goals and one goal, respectively.
Shipley was led by juniors Avery Safford (five goals) and Teddy Chase (three goals, two assists), and freshman goalie Madison Bailey earned six saves in the contest.
The game actually began in an auspicious manner for the Gators, as sophomore Sophie Katz (three goals, one assist) scored twice and assisted on another goal to power the hosts to a 3-0 lead in just two-and-a-half minutes. GFS made a change at center, moving in Didio to take the draws, and the Tigers were able to slow down Shipley’s transition game. Senior Sierra Carter-Gordon spearheaded the effort to contain Katz the rest of the way.
With Katz sent off the field with a yellow card less than a minute after she scored the Gators’ third goal, the Germantown offense got moving with a marker by Morrissey. Free position shots by Didio and Swift-Farley tied the score and then Drake gave the visitors their first lead, 4-3.
Morrissey seized the ball off the subsequent draw and rippled the net just nine seconds later, but the Gators bounced back to a 5-5 tie.
After another exchange of goals for a 6-6 count with just under 10 minutes left in the half, Williamson assisted a GFS strike by Didio to start a 5-0 GFS run to finish out the half. After goals by Morrissey and Williamson, senior Lilly Tyson hit a post on the Shipley cage, then Drake found the net off of a free position.
At the other end, Gilliam stopped a shot by Kelley Hardon (one goal) that might have given the Gators a little momentum going into the break. Instead, Morrissey netted her fifth goal with eight seconds left to make it 11-6.
Solid work on the defensive end by the likes of junior Alex Clarke, sophomore Sophie Mercuris, and freshman Caroline Myran had helped prevent Shipley from responding during the Tiger’s offensive surge.
“We play a sagging defense,” Bergstrom pointed out. “We’re not necessarily going for the check. We’re going for the block, going for the double team. We eventually got focused, worked hard, and marked their cutters.”
Over the first seven minutes of the second half Shipley was able to shave one point off of its deficit, making it 13-9 with 18:07 remaining in the game. Over the next 11 minutes, GFS quashed the uprising, going up 17-9 with markers by Didio, Williamson, Bezahler, and Swift-Farley. The Gators found the Tigers’ cage three times in the final four minutes, but were still behind by five at the final horn.
“This was a total team effort,” Bergstrom stated. “The senior leadership was fantastic and the younger kids played well. It’s great to have a game where everybody is playing well at the same time.”