Kendall Seifert leads Gwynedd Mercy to lacrosse playoff victory

Deborah Lawlor sat in Kendall Seifert’s living room last summer and shared encouraging words after Seifert tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.

Lawlor, the lacrosse coach at Gwynedd Mercy Academy since 2011, wasn’t sure how Seifert would respond, but it soon became clear.

“She fought so hard,” Lawlor said.

Save for the bulky brace on her knee, the uninformed on Tuesday afternoon at Northeast High would not have known that the blonde blur on the field had suffered a devastating injury only a year earlier.

The result was a 16-5 blowout in first-round action of the PIAA Class AA girls’ playoffs against Archbishop Wood, which was led by first-year coach Nicole Fisher, who played for Lawlor at Gwynedd Mercy.

Seifert, who will play at the University of California Davis, scored seven goals and added two assists in a game the Monarchs (19-4) led by 11-3 at halftime.

“I think this just gives us some good momentum continuing into the state playoffs and lets us go in with our heads high,” said Seifert, who notched her 200th career goal earlier this month.

The victory set up a quarterfinal matchup with Radnor, which routed District 2’s Wyoming Seminary, 19-2.

The Monarchs had lost their last two games, including last week’s defeat to Villa Maria, which also beat them to open the season. That season opener was the only game Seifert missed.

Physical therapy was grueling, but the injury had already cost her soccer season and she was not prepared to miss lacrosse, too.

“So I just knew I had to stay with PT and do stuff on my own so I could get strong enough to play again,” she said.

In 87-degree heat, Seifert cut through the middle of Wood’s defense early and often, scoring three of her team’s first six goals.

The Monarchs, however, were not a one-woman operation. Fellow senior Elizabeth Ferguson added two goals and two assists, while freshman Nicole Conwell added two goals of her own.

Wood (11-3) was led by junior goaltender, Lizzie Velten, who stopped 11 shots during the Monarchs’ onslaught.

When asked, Seifert said when she scores goals, it does give her team a boost.

“It helps,” she said. “But on our team we have so many people who can go to goal with power, so I think that helped us get where we are today.”

Fisher, who was a sophomore in Lawlor’s first year as Gwynedd’s coach, got where she is after first playing lacrosse at Bloomsburg University.

The reunion between player and coach should have been May 9 at Gwynedd Mercy, but an intruder alarm on Gwynedd’s campus just before game time forced the game to be canceled for safety reasons. A suspect was apprehended.

But even before Tuesday’s game began, Lawlor could already tell her former pupil was a good coach.

“I think she’s doing a remarkable job,” Lawlor said. “You know a good coach when her players are warming up [on their own]. … She doesn’t need to be on them all the time. It just happens. And she has that in year one.”

Gwynedd Mercy 11 5 16
Wood                  3   2  5

GMA: Kendall Seifert 7, Elizabeth Ferguson 2, Nicole Conwell 2, Chloe Hanson 2, Carrie Johnsto, Emma Fiore, Courtney Narkoff.

W: Annie Whalen, Erin Welsh, Kendall Weng, Kate Waddington, Lindsay Favi.

Saves: GMA — Sarah Holland 5; Lizzie Velten 11.