Photo: Ingrid Booz Morejohn
State College capped its undefeated season with a Pennsylvania state championship, defeating 2015 titleholder Valkyries in the semifinals Saturday and then Downingtown in the final Sunday. State College takes some good momentum and confidence into single-school nationals, and after this weekend’s back-to-back tough games, the champions have an idea of what to expect in St. Charles, Mo.
State College used its defense to produce a 68-5 semifinal win over the Valkyries. Sarah Mosier, Darina Roe, Joannah Skucek and Lauren Anderson accounted for the tries.
“The Valkyries are very young and played hard,” State College coach Bernie Cantorna credited the North Penn-based team. “They never quit. It was a balanced attack on our part.”
Meanwhile, Downingtown took down Doylestown 39-5 on Saturday.
“Our goal was to keep possession away from the strong runners that Doylestown had and our captain, Madalyn Morley, made sure we were in position to do that,” Downingtown coach Matt Dziunycz reported
Center Maddy Bundra and fullback Emily Blevins scored two tries apiece, while Maddy Warner, Cecilie Geraghty and Abby Boyd also dotted down.
“The team looked great today, but we are well aware that we will need to bring our best against a very strong State College side,” the coach acknowledged in advance of the final. “The girls left the pitch loose and excited for tomorrow. It is the fifth finals appearance in a row for Downingtown, and they were very proud of that today.”
When State College and Downingtown met earlier in the season, the former won by a healthy margin, but Cantorna expected a much improved Downingtown come post-season. And he wasn’t disappointed. During the first half, both teams struggled to enforce their respective attacks, but Downingtown found space up the left side for the game-opening converted try.
Five minutes later, Skucek put down her side’s first try, and the teams entered the break tied 7-all. State College nearly took the lead after a strong run from Larissa McGhee, but the dot-down was held up.
State College continued to push its attack, and Downingtown’s defense turned over possession or benefitted from penalties, one of which ended in a State College yellow card.
The game turned at minute 55 when Mosier finished off a series of attacking forward phases close to the goal line. Downingtown launched a gutsy campaign from its own 22, but instead, Gigi Agliardo sealed the decision with a try in the 65th minute. With Emy Booz’s two conversions, State College prevailed 19-7.
State College now heads to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., for the single-school national championship. Competing in Division I, Colorado state champion Summit High School awaits State College in the opening quarterfinal round. From there, the Pennsylvania state champion will play either Wisconsin state champion Catholic Memorial High or Tennessee state champion McMinn County.
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