Harriton girls lacrosse coach George Dick knows one of the keys for his team this year will be strong defense. In order for a team to have a cohesive defensive unit, they need to play together and communicate.
With the team having to deal with injuries to key players, Dick knew their offense would be fine but their defense would need time to gel due to the fact of having to experiment with different combinations.
On Tuesday afternoon, Harriton received a big lift from its defensive unit and held off a pesky Radnor team to earn an important 11-7 win in a key Central League battle.
"Our defense played very well today,' said Dick. "Radnor got very few open shots.. Our defense played great. Hillary Lemonick has been the glue and Alexa Foust always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Radnor is a good team and it is always a battle when we play'
Holding a slim 10-7 lead, Harriton received a big goal from senior and Michigan signee Katie Melvin with 10:15 left to push the lead to 11-7.
Following the goal, the Harriton defense came up with a big stop allowing the offense to gain possession with 7:54 remaining. From there, Harriton implemented a stall offense to perfection running out the clock.
One of the biggest surprises has come in the cage. With Syracuse signee Melina Avery sidelined, freshman Sophie Grady was thrown into the fire and has continued to develop each day.
"Sophie has really stepped up,' said Harriton attack Jane Henderson, who tallied five goals against Radnor. "We knew we had back-up when Melina got hurt. We had no idea how much Sophie would step up. She has been great.'
Dick added, "Sophie has done a great job. She has only played three games but she seems to get better each day. "
After falling behind early thanks to a pair of Radnor goals from Megan Massimino and Kate Stanley, the Rams offense began to click outscoring Radnor 7-1 over the next 11 minutes to take an 8-3 lead forcing the hosts to call time-out.
Following the time-out Radnor tallied two goals to slice the halftime lead to 8-5. Following a tally by Hannah Proctor to cut Harriton's lead to 8-6, the Rams defense rallied to together and made the plays necessary to keep Radnor from getting open looks.
When Radnor did get an opportunity, it seemed like Grady would come up with the key save when needed.
"I have been working with Melina every day in practice,' Grady said. "She has taught me everything. I also have to credit our defense today. They were great.'
Knowing this year was going to be tough, Dick wanted to make sure his team was challenged early. Thus the team went to Florida to face-off against tough competition.
Although the trip did not go as planned, it served as the perfect wake-up call of how much work it was going to take in order to have a successful campaign.
"You have play good teams in order to get better,' said Dick. "I knew the trip was a going to be a challenge but I wanted to make sure we were ready for the season. The Central League is very tough.'
"We had a tough start,' said Henderson. "The Florida trip did not go as well as we would have hoped but it served as a reality check and what we need to do to be successful. I don't think we are completely there yet but we are still striving to get where we need to be.'
While the season appears to be coming to an end, it is only hitting its stride. With important games on the horizon, the approach has become somewhat of a clichÃ©: Take one game at a time.