St. Anthony's girls added 6th straight title to lofty ranking
How much disappointment is there when a team comes within, perhaps, a goal of its ultimate goal?
"We didn't get what we were shooting for, but I can't be anything but proud of everything this team did accomplish,'' St. Anthony's coach Corinne Lomangino said. "We lost 16 seniors and still made strides.''
Enough to be considered the No. 2 girls lacrosse team in the country, up one spot from last year, according to a Lacrosse Magazine poll.
The Friars (17-1) dominated, with arguably the most challenging schedule in the nation, and captured a sixth consecutive CHSAA Class AA championship.
The lone blemish -- and what likely kept them from attaining that top ranking they've long sought -- was a 13-12 road loss to Vero Beach in Florida on April 3.
According to the LaxPower poll, a BCS-like computer rating system, St. Anthony's finished only .06 points behind Moorestown (N.J.), which had an undefeated season. Given its wins over other highly ranked opponents, the Friars likely would have been No. 1, if . . .
"It was the beginning of our season and we were still working on little things and figuring out our chemistry,'' sophomore Izzy Mangan said. Vero Beach, a Florida team, had begun its season back in February and was playing its 16th contest. "After that loss, though,'' Mangan said, "we really showed what we can do.''
Did they ever.
The highlight of St. Anthony's season -- and possibly the program -- was its 9-8 upset of St. Stephen's & St. Agnes on April 27. The Virginia powerhouse entered ranked second and riding a 36-game winning streak.
But Maggie Bill had three goals, Kerri Puckhaber and Kasey Behr each added two, and Mangan scored the winner with 2:27 remaining. Freshman goalie Charlotte Campbell made two stunning saves in the waning moments to secure what Lomangino called, "the biggest win we've ever had.''
(Yes, even trumping their triple-overtime victory over Maryland's Good Counsel in 2010.)
And the players acted as such, charging their home field to celebrate.
Later victories over Garden City (No. 9) and Manhasset (No. 6) reaffirmed St. Anthony's standing.
In the CHSAA championship game, it was sophomore Ella Bonafede who shined brightest with five goals in a 16-6 victory over St. John the Baptist. And Behr, a junior, played through a knee injury to score three goals.
Sure, the carrot still dangles, but for the Friars, No. 2 and a championship plaque will certainly suffice . . . for now.
"You can't be disappointed about winning another championship,'' senior Natalia Chaney said. "And that No. 1 spot is just added motivation for the girls next year.''