Hot Harriton aims for state crown

Harriton's Kate Melvin (left) scored seven goals in the PIAA semifinals and five in the first round. LOU RABITO / Staff
Harriton's Kate Melvin (left) scored seven goals in the PIAA semifinals and five in the first round. LOU RABITO / Staff
Posted: June 09, 2013

Harriton coach George Dick vividly remembers the first time his girls' lacrosse team played Radnor.

How could he forget? Harriton lost, 24-2, and managed to get the ball past midfield just twice in the first half.

Five years later, the neighboring Central League programs will meet Saturday as rivals and equals in the PIAA state championship game at noon at HersheyPark Stadium (4:30 p.m., Pennsylvania Cable Network).

Radnor will be going for its third title and first since 2010. Harriton is making its first appearance in the final.

"Harriton isn't exactly a sports powerhouse. We're known for our academic decathlon team," Dick said. "We have not had tremendous success, so for a team sport like this to go and win is saying something."

Harriton has had a banner season. The Rams are 24-2, District 1 champions, and have won nine in a row.

But getting to the summit won't come without adversity. Harriton has played the state tournament without junior all-American midfielder Sabrina Tabasso, out with a broken foot.

Dick mourned the loss of a player he called "an all-around force" but thinks the Rams can weather the setback.

"We have more than Sabrina," Dick said. "We have a very deep team. We have a lot of very good players."

So far, he has been proven right. Harriton has scored 45 goals in its three state playoff games.

Junior midfielder Kate Melvin scored seven goals in the semifinal win and five in the first round. All-American senior attack Caleigh Foust has 90 goals this season and has been learning how to take draw controls on the fly during the tournament. Junior defender Hilary Lemonick moved into the midfield.

And of course, there's the ace in the hole, junior goalie Melina Avery.

Avery "is probably the best goalie in the area. So even when we have mistakes, we have her back there," Dick said. "That's a good thing to have."

Radnor (20-4) has its fair share of good players, too.

Seniors Taylor Quinn and Brooke Pancoast are aces in the midfield, and attack Shannon Quinn is a consistent scorer. Sophomore Reilly Masterson had a breakout game in the semifinals, scoring seven times against Peters Township.

Radnor won't be lacking for motivation, either. Harriton has twice beaten Radnor, 10-9 and 15-6, this season.

"I feel like we have a deeper team and we just have to put it together, and, yes, it would be nice to beat your rival," Radnor coach Brooke Fritz said.

"But it doesn't matter who it is. We have to go out there and play hard and play well and let the chips fall as they do."

Contact Tim McManus at Follow on Twitter @ByTimMcManus.

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