Sacred Heart celebrates at midfield after defeating Kellenberg in the...

Sacred Heart celebrates at midfield after defeating Kellenberg in the CHSAA semifinal playoff game on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Credit: Steven Ryan

The rhythmic chants of "Sha-nnon Calla-han" rang out from the Sacred Heart bench Tuesday, much like the cheers of "M-V-P!" often are heard for a star basketball player attempting free throws.

Except in this case, it was more like a jump ball.

"I just try to use my height and reach to my advantage," said Callahan, the Spartans' 6-foot draw control specialist. "There aren't a lot of girls taller than me, so my strategy is to get the ball up high."

Luck of the draw? No. Callahan, a former basketball player, has the draw controlled.

The senior won 11 draw controls, giving extra possessions to an efficient offense, as No. 3 Sacred Heart beat second-seeded Kellenberg, 13-9, in a CHSAA Class AA girls lacrosse semifinal.

"It's the legs!" teammate Erin Pfail said, as she and Callahan laughed. "She's got the longest legs and she's tall, so once the ball goes up, she's got the reach to go get it."

And her teammates have the skills to cash in.

Pfail had three goals and two assists and Kathleen Berkery and Kelli Schmidt each scored three goals to lead Sacred Heart (14-6). Isabelle Grant added two goals and Lauren Tierney made nine saves.

The Spartans will face St. Anthony's at 5 p.m. Friday, at Farmingdale State in a rematch of five of the previous six finals.

"It's great to be back in the final; one year off was enough for us," Sacred Heart coach Morgan Molinari said of her team that lost in the semifinals last season. "This game was the biggest hurdle for our season and we had to prove to ourselves that we could do it."

The Spartans also had to prove they could beat Kellenberg after losing to them twice in the regular season. But this time . . .

"Shannon was unstoppable and set the tone," Molinari said. "That was probably the biggest factor early on."

Callahan won the first five draws and Sacred Heart capitalized with fluid ball movement and created open shots off give-and-gos. Schmidt scored twice in a minute to give the Spartans a 7-3 lead midway through the first half and Sarah Galzerano's goal -- off a feed from Pfail -- extended the lead to 11-4 with 2:20 left in the half.

"In those [losses], Kellenberg beat us on a lot of 50-50 balls and draws," Berkery said. "We learned from that and improved."

Kellenberg rallied early in the second half and Sarah Mahon's goal pulled it within 11-8 with 22:53 left. The Firebirds would get no closer. Tierney had five second-half stops, including a high stick save off a one-on-one shot with 14:59 remaining.

Lindsey Ehrhardt had three goals and three assists for Kellenberg (11-5), which had its best regular season in program history. Alexis Morales and Taylor Casey each scored twice, Kaitlyn Stackpole had an assist and Maggie Friel made five saves.

"It gets me excited knowing I can pump my team up a little bit," said Callahan, whom teammates playfully called "rock star" as she left the field. "Possession is so important because when you have the ball, you've got a chance to control the game."

That's how they draw it up.

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