Chrissy Corcoran: Beating St. Anthony's major for Sacred Heart girls lacrosse

St. Anthony's Maggie Bill, left, looks to get St. Anthony's Maggie Bill, left, looks to get past Sacred Heart Academy's Erin Pfail in the first half on May 21, 2012. Photo Credit: James Escher

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It was a long and grueling trek up that mountain, and one the Sacred Heart girls lacrosse team hadn't even envisioned. But finally, they had reached the summit.

"It's something I had never experienced before," senior Chrissy Corcoran said. "That feeling, the sense of accomplishment, is special."

Sacred Heart shocked St. Anthony's on Monday, beating the Friars for the first time since 2006. Keep in mind, St. Anthony's entered that game ranked fifth in the country and had rolled over its CHSAA competition in winning six straight league titles. So the Spartans' 9-7 victory was every bit a mountain conquered.

They charged the field and piled on top of defender Kerianne Moran, celebrating what coach Morgan Molinari called "a huge moment in our program's history."

But the Spartans did actually climb a mountain just days before that. The two feats, they insist, are connected.

Sacred Heart spent five days in Denver last week and enjoyed a three-game sweep of Colorado's top teams. And in their free time, the Spartans did quite a bit, including kayaking and hiking 10,000 feet up Deer Mountain on April 24.

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"I'd never even been that far west, let alone climb a mountain," senior Erin Pfail said. "It was challenging, but everything was so breathtaking."

She meant the view of the snow-covered peaks, but "breathtaking" also could apply to the thin air in Denver's altitude, which the group adjusted to in its games.

Kathleen Berkery scored three goals in Sacred Heart's 12-2 win over Regis Jesuit on April 23, and she set a career-high with six goals in a 12-9 win over Air Academy. Corcoran had six goals and Pfail four assists as they beat Kent, 18-7, for the sweep.

In addition to the tangible results of the trip, Molinari said, the team bonded, became more confident and improved its "mental toughness." That was tested immediately as the their flight was delayed Sunday and they arrived in New York at night. Several players had research papers due, Pfail said. Oh, and a little Monday afternoon meeting at St. Anthony's.

"Everyone was exhausted, but we were so pumped from Colorado, that adrenaline carried us," Pfail said. "In the past, we'd psyche ourselves out before playing St. Anthony's, but this time we didn't even have time to think."

They just played -- exceptionally. Pfail had two goals and three assists and Berkery scored three goals for the Spartans (8-4). Corcoran, Cara Urbank, Moran and Audrey Mandaro excelled in slowing the surging Friars.

Two peaks in a week. Which was more impressive?

"Getting to the top of the Rockies was awesome," Corcoran said, "but beating St. Anthony's was definitely the biggest accomplishment."

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