Garnet Valley has special motivation

Garnet Valley's Haley Warden. (Lou Rabito/Staff)

Before another Garnet Valley girls' lacrosse win last week, Haley Warden grabbed a pen and scribbled onto the tape she wrapped to protect her right hand.

As the senior always does, she wrote "#10ve" and "Kip."

The Jaguars are gearing up for the PIAA final against Springfield (Delco), scheduled for noon Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. And they will be bringing the message of Kip Taviano with them.

Taviano died last May in a two-car accident in Delaware County. The 17-year-old was finishing his senior year at the Haverford School, where he played football and lacrosse. He had committed to play lacrosse at Furman University. His twin sister, Maggie, played on Garnet Valley's 2011 and 2012 state-championship teams.

"I think we're definitely going to win it for Maggie and Kip," Warden said. "I know Maggie is rooting for us, and it would be awesome if we came out on top."

Coach Jenny Purvis asked her players before the season how they wanted to design their annual team T-shirts. They told her they wanted them to represent Taviano.

They chose purple shirts - the color of Furman - and printed on the back the Twitter hashtag that Warden scribbles on her hand. It was created after Taviano's death and uses his uniform number to spell "love."

"It bonded the team," Purvis said. "It gave them the same cause to fight for. Anything that can make them go in the same direction and have the same goals definitely helps."

The Jaguars (23-2) have won 14 of their last 15 games. The loss came in last month's District 1 final against Springfield (24-2). The Cougars scored with 3.4 seconds left to win by one.

It was the teams' second meeting, with Garnet Valley claiming a four-goal victory early this season.

Springfield is riding the play of goalie Katie Bedard and a defense that has allowed an average of 6.8 goals this season.

"It feels awesome," Springfield junior Emily Santana said. "We know they're a strong team and they've been tough competition in the past. It's exciting to play them again."