This time, Patriots coach Chuck Creighton said, the game will mean a lot more.
"Trust me, anytime we play, we don't take them lightly and they don't take us lightly," Creighton said. "As for a psychological advantage, I don't think they have it."
This season, the Patriots have seen their ups and downs, with a big win over Notre Dame, two down-to-the-wire matchups with Neumann-Goretti, and a seven-game winning streak after dropping their opener. But Carroll sometimes struggled in league play, losing to O'Hara and Wood during the regular season by a combined 39 points.
In the semifinal, the Patriots (16-6) will look to Sarah Curran, who has a lot of experience with winning and has been nothing short of a dominating presence all season for Carroll, ranked sixth in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer.
In her four years with the Patriots, Curran has won 93 games, not to mention a Class AAAA state title last season. The senior forward also saw her squad go undefeated throughout league play and lose by one point in the state championship two seasons ago.
Curran is averaging more than 16 points a game this season, including four 26-point efforts.
"Sarah is a terrific offensive player," Creighton said. "She has done a nice job of scoring when we need baskets. We count on her for that, and she has done a good job of that."
The team that wins the Catholic League title earns an automatic bid to the state tournament, but the other teams in the league also have a shot at berths. Several scenarios will give the Patriots a chance to defend their Class AAAA championship.
But Creighton doesn't want to think about that yet.
"I'm just concerned with Thursday," said the coach, who is in his sixth year at Carroll.
The Inquirer TOP 10
Records through Saturday.
Last week's rankings in parentheses.
1. Spring-Ford (1) 23-2
2. Card. O'Hara (2) 17-5
3. Arch. Wood (3) 17-7
4. Episcopal Ac. (4) 23-3
5. Mt. St. Joseph (6) 22-2
6. Arch. Carroll (8) 16-6
7. Notre Dame (5) 21-5
8. Shipley (7) 19-7
9. Villa Maria (9) 18-5
10. G'town Ac . (NR) 20-11
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Methacton (21-5), North Penn (20-3), Upper Dublin (22-1).
- Kate Harman