HERSHEY, Pa. - Haley Warden stood near the 10-yard line, awaiting the referee's signal. The early momentum Garnet Valley had built dissolved in the second half of Saturday's PIAA girls' lacrosse final. The Jaguars' five-goal lead over Springfield (Delco) had dwindled to one.
"Let's go, Haley," a fan hollered from the Hersheypark Stadium grandstand.
The ref's whistle blew, and Warden charged the net and scored off the restarted play to put Garnet Valley back on track. She scored again three minutes later, and the Jaguars rolled to a 13-9 win.
The state title was their third in the last four seasons and the first for second-year coach Jenny Purvis.
"It feels so surreal to me," said Warden, who finished with five goals. "I'm so happy and proud of our team as a whole. We worked hard all season. We knew what it took to get here."
Warden scored three times in the first half. All three goals were assisted by sophomore Emily Mathewson, who was in middle school when the Jaguars won their two previous titles. She watched those games from the stands, and that experience motivated her to win her own.
Mathewson scored twice in the second half, both times off restarts. She appeared to score once by dumping the ball over the head of Springfield's goalie, but a penalty was called.
Because the foul was on the goalie, Mathewson was granted a shot on an empty net. She scored again. Again it was negated by a penalty. Her third try was free of foul, giving Garnet Valley a six-goal lead midway through the half and firm control.
"It was just to show that we don't give up," Mathewson said. "We keep on pushing."
Garnet Valley goalie Paige Mitros held the Cougars scoreless for the first 17 minutes. The senior recorded nine saves in the first half, giving her team a four-goal lead.
But Springfield rallied, scoring twice in the first 90 seconds of the second half. Mitros went nine minutes before recording a second-half save.
But Mitros stayed calm, thinking back to tips from goaltending coach Kate Stroup. Focus on your steps. Don't go out early.
Mitros held Springfield scoreless for the next 10 minutes.
"I was on the team my first two years when we won, but I didn't really play," said Mitros, who finished with 14 saves. "To be able to start and win is just an incredible feeling."
Garnet Valley's celebration wound down a few minutes after Warden and the team's two other captains were presented the championship trophy.
There was one more thing Warden needed to do. She searched the sideline for the team's water cooler, but found only a pair of small bottles. That would not be enough to drench her coach.
As she continued her search, a few teammates located the cooler and soaked Purvis. The celebration was complete, and the momentum belonged to Garnet Valley.
Garnet Valley 7 6 – 13
Springfield (D) 3 6 – 9
Goals: GV-Haley Warden 5, Emily Mathewson 5, Dana Davis, Michelle Koscinski, Madison Valerio; S-Autumn Spence, Kate Ryan 2, Bridget Whitaker, Cailyn Gormley, Taylor De Bernardi, Emily Santana 2, Emily Paulus.
Saves: GV-Paige Mitros 14; S-Katie Bedard 6.