Prior to the official start of the 2012 campaign, South Western High girls' lacrosse coach Jim Kopenhaver drew up a laundry list of team goals on a whiteboard.

The first was to win YAIAA Division I.

South Western moved closer to that goal Wednesday night, beating rival Red Lion, 17-2. The Lady Mustangs orchestrated a scoring onslaught which lasted up until the final minute. La Salle University-bound senior Katie Wherley spearheaded a breakneck-paced transition attack, depositing a game-high nine goals.

The wire-to-wire pelting of Red Lion had some extra value to it.

It was senior night. It was the Lady Mustangs' first-ever performance in South Western's football stadium. It was under the lights before a jam-packed crowd against a blood rival. The intensity heightened as players from each team exchanged words and staredowns until the final play.

"We have a bit of a rivalry brewing with Red Lion. The girls certainly like to play against them," said Kopenhaver, whose team bounced back from a 12-11 upset at the hands of York Catholic. "There's some friendly banter that goes on in the middle of the game. I don't really condone that, but these teams are always fired up to play each other. We're trying to finish our division schedule undefeated and run the table."

On Wednesday night, the Lady Mustangs ran the turf. A senior core, which Kopenhaver has nurtured since its days with the South Western youth lacrosse program, left its fingerprints all over the field.

Helping open up seams for Wherley was senior Sydney Szparaga, who won 88 percent of the draws, scooped up groundballs and fired the ball into the open field to accelerate the frenetic transition attack.

"In transition, it was Wherley who was really leading the charge for us," Kopenhaver said. "She must have had five transition goals. She's probably the fastest player in the county. Everyone contributed overall. It was really important for us to get production out of our seniors.

Red Lion s Abbie Miller tries to block South Western s Callie Kavanaugh as she nears the goal during Wednesday night s game at The Mustang Corral. South
Red Lion s Abbie Miller tries to block South Western s Callie Kavanaugh as she nears the goal during Wednesday night s game at The Mustang Corral. South Western easily dispatched of the Lions, 17-2. (The Evening Sun -- Clare Becker)
Being it was the first time ever that this team played in the football stadium, it's a pretty significant win. It's sweet to witness a senior group as talented and hardworking as this one, one that I was fortunate to inherit, go out on a high note like this."

Beyond Wherley's furious scoring barrage, Callie Kavanaugh turned in a hat trick for the Lady Mustangs. Mary Rebert chimed in a pair of goals.

South Western steered dodgers clear of the cage and outshot the Lions 45-10. Becca Silver handled matters between the pipes, collecting four saves.

"Whenever you hold a team to two goals, you know you're doing something right," Kopenhaver said. "Becca is another player who is going to be sorely missed next year. She was honorable mention All-County and she's been the backbone of this defense."

The defensive integrity never waned. South Western's senior tandem of Kasie Mahorney and Janelle Doll relished the senior night atmosphere, applying the blanketing defense that's made them essential ingredients to the "both sides of the ball" recipe Kopenhaver constantly preaches.

"Both of those players are both studs," said Kopenhaver of the 1-2 punch. "They scoop up groundballs. They play physical. they basically handle the job of marking the top two scorers on the opponent's side. Every game. This senior group can't be complete without Jess Smith at attack. She's extremely steady. She handles the ball well. She backs up shots. She's just a steady player you can count on. She does whatever it takes to help the team win."

Bidding adieu to this senior class surely won't be easy.

After a lopsided affair of this magnitude, will South Western enforce the same souped-up offense and capture the season series next week at Red Lion?

"When you've got this rivalry thing going, you never really know," Kopenhaver said. "It's one of those things where you just have to go out and play your tail off every game. York Catholic beating us, I think that definitely made their season. We're just trying to win out, qualify for the county (YAIAA) championship and get home field advantage for the playoffs. That's where the bar is set right now."

zsmart@eveningsun.com; 717-637-3736, extension 143.

  

SOUTH WESTERN 17, RED LION 2
Red Lion  2    0 --   2
South Western  7  10 -- 17

   Red Lion goals -- Sierra Donovan, Martin.
   South Western goals -- Katie Wherley 9, Callie Kavanaugh 3, Mary Rebert 2, Alyx May, Sydney Szparaga, Thomas.
   South Western assists -- Szparaga, Kavanaugh, Rebert.
   Shots on goal -- RL 10, SW 45.
   Goalies -- RL, 10 saves; SW, Becca Silver (4 saves).
   JV score -- South Western 10, Red Lion 0.