Aesthetically, Archbishop Carroll's 11-8 victory against Strath Haven in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A girls' lacrosse playoffs left much to be desired for the Patriots players and coaches.
But perhaps there was a silver lining after the top-seeded Patriots needed to erase a late one-goal deficit when Strath Haven went on a 6-1 run at drizzly Northeast High.
"The biggest thing, I think, was that we were able to come back," said junior Sydney D'Orsogna, who scored three goals. "Even though we did have a lot of dropped balls, missed ground balls, and we lost ourselves for a minute, we were able to pull ourselves together as a team and work toward [coming back], which is something we haven't done before this season."
Carroll (21-1) has dominated many of its opponents, and coach Lorraine Beers implored her team to not take foes lightly. The Patriots last advanced past the first round in 2011.
Strath Haven was certainly to be reckoned with Tuesday. After falling behind, 5-1, in the first half, it went on a run that culminated with a Nicole McNeely goal that supplied a 7-6 edge with 16 minutes, 11 seconds remaining.
With Carroll's two top offensive players, Sam Swart and Katie Detwiler, garnering the bulk of Strath Haven's defensive attention, the Patriots found others who stepped up.
"We practiced both Sam and Katie being face-guarded because they're our main offensive players," D'Orsogna said, "but we also have plays feeding from behind the net and crease rolls, and because of that, it really helped us to not just rely on them because everybody can score goals."
D'Orsogna scored two of the team's first five goals and added a critical insurance goal that yielded a 9-7 lead with 6:33 left.
Swart and Detwiler wouldn't be held down forever, as each scored twice. D'Orsogna also praised the leadership of junior defender Rachel Matey. Grace Gallagher also scored three times, including the go-ahead goal with 10:21 left.
Strath Haven's physical defense also cost four yellow cards, which meant it played a player down for the game's last 121/2 minutes. McNeely led Strath Haven with four goals and junior goaltender Katie Capalbo kept the team close, stopping 11 shots.
Carroll will play District 1's Owen J. Roberts on Saturday at a time and location to be determined.
"It's definitely a learning experience," D'Orsogna said. "Because we're not just going to win 18-0 every time. We need games like this. We need to learn to be able to come back and win as a team, especially if we want to take it all the way."
Archbishop Carroll 5 6 - 11
Strath Haven 4 4 - 8
C: Sydney D'Orsogna 3, Sam Swart 2, Katie Detwiler 2, Grace Gallagher 3, Amber Germer.
S: Nicole McNeely 4, Maddi Ruffini, Margot Hotham, Chloe Brennan, Elisa Kruse.
Saves: C - Maddie Ferraioli 9; S - Katie Capalbo 11.