This week has been a continuation of the PAISAA postseason tournament for three Penn Charter spring teams. As of May 25, two were still alive, with one landing in the semifinals and another having a championship game on deck. Let’s take a closer look at how we got there:
Before the spectators could even finish filing into the Perrott Field bleachers for Penn Charter’s May 24 PAISAA semifinal game against the Hill School, the Quakers had raced out to a 4-0 lead in less than five minutes. Three of those goals came off the sticks of seniors Maddie Shoup (twice) and Darcy Felter, and it seemed like PC might run its opposition right off the field. Then, just like that, after some questionable whistles that yielded second-chance opportunities, Hill mounted a rally, scoring four consecutive goals and entering halftime with the score knotted at 4.
A suddenly close game with the season on the line? No problem, just call on Shoup and Felter to put out the fire.
Led by Shoup’s seven goals and Felter’s four, the Quakers blitzed Hill in the second half, out-scoring their opponent 12-2 en route to a 16-6 win. PC advanced to the May 26 PAISAA title game against SCH Academy, which will be played at 4 p.m. on the campus of Cabrini College.
This 16-goal onslaught was on the heels of last week’s 16-7 first-round win over GA, in which Shoup took that one over as well with a six-goal output. Shoup scored the first three goals out of the break against Hill in just over three minutes of game time, and Felter added another less than a minute later to push the lead to 8-4. Hill cut it to a two-goal lead one more time with 15:03 to go but never scored again, thanks to a stingy Quaker defense as well as strong play in goal from Kayla Joyce. When Shoup and Felter are scoring at this rate and the back line is doing its job, Penn Charter is hard to stop.
“If I had to pick someone to go to battle with, I’m picking Maddie Shoup,” said Felter, who also added two assists, six draw controls and two ground balls. “She’s the one who will fight for that ground ball and put her shots away. She’s so shifty, and it’s hard to defend her when she slips the seams. Get her the ball, and good things are going to happen.”
There are many things that make the PC offense lethal, but one of the main reasons is how much the girls support one another. There is no competition over who scores the most goals.
“At the end of the day, if the game is tied with two seconds left, Darcy is who I want with the ball,” said Shoup, who added an assist, four draw controls, a ground ball, and three caused turnovers. “She has such a high lacrosse IQ. Everything comes so naturally to her, and when she’s on the field and sees an opportunity, she always puts it away.”
Penn Charter won 19 games this season compared to just four losses, yet still finished second in the Inter-Ac standings this year behind Episcopal (EA defeated the Quakers in both regular season meetings and is not playing in this tournament). So, for seniors such as Shoup and Felter, the PAISAA Tournament represents another opportunity to end their careers as champions. Not many high school athletes get the opportunity to say the last game they ever played ended in a title win, but that’s what Shoup, Felter and the 10 other seniors have directly in front of them.
“During our freshman year, we’d lose 14-0 to successful teams like Agnes Irwin and Episcopal, and now we’re playing one-goal games and beating teams like that, so it just shows how far we’ve come,” Felter said. “This group of seniors is really special.”
None of these seniors have won a PAISAA title, which makes all of them supremely motivated. When Shoup sliced and diced her way to three immediate second-half goals, it was evident she was playing with a little extra pep in her step. She was fiercely determined to win the game for her team, and the 13 goals she’s scored already in this tournament are proof of that fact.
Not only that, but Shoup, Felter and company lost only four games this season, with one of those being a 12-9 defeat at SCH Academy on April 5. PC finished a game in front of the Blue Devils in the standings, but that defeat still looms large in the players’ minds. Before they shook hands with Hill after the game, the Quakers were informed by the coaching staff that they would get another shot at SCH, who edged Agnes Irwin 9-8 in the other semifinal. Every single one of them audibly cheered at the outcome.
“We’re definitely very excited,” Shoup said. “I remember how I felt when we lost to them. We all do. None of us have forgotten that, so getting the chance to play them again is huge for us. With all that we’ve been through, the chance to finally win PAISAA is something that we all want so badly.”
The Quakers will get their chance today at 4 p.m. at Cabrini College. Follow the action live on YouTube.
The rest of the Penn Charter box score from Tuesday is listed below:
Charlotte Hodgson: 2 goals, 4 draw controls, ground ball
Bea Buckley: goal, assist, ground ball, caused turnover
Gracie Shoup: goal, draw control
Alex Glomb: goal, 3 ground balls, 2 caused turnovers
Grace Walter: assist, ground ball
Lane Murray: assist, ground ball, 2 caused turnovers
Ella Curci: 3 ground balls, 3 caused turnovers
Kayla Joyce: 2 saves
Typically, home runs are not an enormous part of the high school baseball landscape.
Apparently, nobody told Penn Charter about that.
Following last week’s opening-round PAISAA win over the Hill School, the No. 6 Quakers traveled to No. 3 Perkiomen on May 24 and turned the field into their own personal launch pad. In the third inning alone, PC smashed four round-trippers off the bats of Shawn Flynn (2-for-3, HR, RBI), Vince Fattore (HR, 2 RBI), Aidan Mehta (2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI) and Tim Ford (1-for-2, HR, 3 RBI). The team raced out to an 8-1 lead and never looked back, and starting pitcher Scott Doran got in on the fun himself by clubbing a home run in the top of the fourth to increase the lead to 12-1, which ended up being the final score of the contest. Following his two innings of strong pitching against Hill, Doran was again exceptional on the mound against Perkiomen, allowing just one run and one hit while striking out eight in five innings of work.
The win pushed Penn Charter into the semifinals, where they will host Inter-Ac rival No. 7 Haverford at Palaia Field at 4 p.m. on May 26. Should the Quakers advance, the championship game will be played against the winner of Malvern-SCH Academy at 3 p.m. on May 28 at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth in Plymouth Meeting.
The softball team was originally scheduled to kick off its PAISAA run last week, but inclement weather twice pushed PC’s first-round game at Perkiomen to May 23. In the end, the wait was more than worth it, as the No. 9 Quakers’ bats exploded with multiple home runs to knock off host eighth-seeded Perkiomen with an emphatic 19-1 victory. Macie Bergmann and Maddie Brooks each socked three-run home runs in the second inning as PC raced out to a 9-0 lead. Bergmann added another three-run home run later in the game, and she also contributed a double. Lauren Gedraitis shut the opposition down from the pitching circle, allowing just one run as the game was called after three innings.
“Lauren pitched great, and the girls’ bats were on fire,” head coach Melissa O’Connor said. “It was our best hitting as a team throughout the entire season.”
Unfortunately, due to the bad weather and compressed schedule, the Quakers did not have much time to bask in the glow of victory as they were right back at it the next day at top-seeded SCH Academy. PC was able to scatter eight hits across five innings, but none of those runners crossed the plate in a game the Blue Devils ultimately won 10-0. While the loss ended Penn Charter’s season, there was still much to be proud of, as well as lots to look forward to next season.
“It was a tough year with a new coaching staff and limited help,” O’Connor said. “The captains stepped up tremendously in practices and games, pushing everyone to play their best. The highlight of the season was seeing every girl make improvements, offensively and defensively. The team camaraderie grew stronger as the season went on, and they fought hard together towards the end of the season and PAISAA tournament. This is a young team, and I look forward to seeing what the girls bring next year.”
Just as a reminder, PC will be back on the water May 26-28 in the team’s final regatta of the season, this time with four qualified boats competing in the SRAA Nationals, a championship for all North American rowing crews, on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.