After loss in WPIAL semifinals, Franklin Regional girls lacrosse rebounds to qualify for states

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Friday, May 25, 2018 | 11:00 PM


If it looks like members of the Franklin Regional girls lacrosse team are wearing shoulder pads when they take the field in the PIAA Class AA tournament, they're not. It's just a chip the rests on not one but both shoulders after the Panthers fell short of their goal of winning a WPIAL title.

“I think we're a team who always has a chip on (our) shoulders, especially after last year,” Franklin Regional coach Mackenzie McGuire said. “(We) came out fighting for this consolation game and a chance to be state-bound.”

With a 13-8 win over rival Mars in Thursday's WPIAL Class AA consolation game, Franklin Regional (14-4) earned a trip to the PIAA Class AA bracket as the WPIAL third-place team behind champion Hampton and runner-up Oakland Catholic. The Panthers will play District 3 champ Hershey (21-2) on Tuesday.

“Obviously, a WPIAL championship is what every coach and team goes for,” McGuire said. “We quickly realigned our goals and came out (against Mars) with strong energy, and they wanted to prove themselves.”

A team that was riding a six-game win streak had its WPIAL championship aspirations dashed last Monday in a 13-12 overtime loss to No. 7 Quaker Valley. It was a game that the Panthers led nearly the entire way before it slipped out of their control in the waning minutes of regulation.

“We had a few errors,” McGuire said. “It was a team thing. We weren't playing up to our full potential, and we still held a lead almost the whole game. I can't be mad; they gave it all they had.”

One — that will be the word, the number and will serve as a brutal reminder of just how close the Panthers came to adding to the school's trophy case. All four of Franklin Regional's losses this season came by one goal.

The Quaker Valley loss served as fuel for the Panthers going into consolation match with the Planets. Franklin Regional got production from its standouts. Sophomore Noelle Boyd scored four goals, and Christina Hodowanec added a hat trick, while Angie Giannangeli and Lauren Callahan both found the net twice.

“(Boyd's) a beast out there, and there's no other way to describe her,” McGuire said. “Hodowanec and her have some kind of bond, I don't know what it is.”

The 2018 squad is the second in Franklin Regional history to reach the PIAA tournament. The first time the Panthers moved into the state bracket was in 2010 when McGuire was a junior. The Panthers lost to District 3 Hempfield, 16-9, in 2010.

Hershey charged back from a 7-4 halftime deficit to outscore Susquehannock, 7-2, in the second half and come away with a thrilling, 11-9 upset win. It's Hershey's first girls lacrosse title. The Trojans' attack is led by Taylor Yahn and her team-high 42 goals and 58 points, along with Maddie Zimmer (29 goals) and Olivia McDonald (16).

“The eastern side of the state is a whole new side of lacrosse,” McGuire said. “They fight hard.”

McGuire said she doesn't have much access to film on Hershey and that's not much of a problem. This time of year, it's not so much about what the other team does and it's more about what the Panthers do right.

“We're looking for stats on their team, but we're just going to have to focus on the basics,” McGuire said.

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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