Radnor’s state trip echoes that of another time – PA Prep Live

RADNOR – This week’s extracurricular history lesson involved one main source – or rather two, working in tandem.

The first was Jake Solderitsch, the coach of the Radnor’s women’s football team and graduated from Radnor in 2000. In his day, that was the last time the school’s women’s football team had done what made his current team. Before that final stop on Saturday, he went to the archives for a photo or two.

“We practiced the other day and they showed us a picture of the 1999 squad,” Radnor center-back Olivia Kelley said Thursday. “We were just looking at it and we were like, wow, that’s an old photo. We’re like this next team going up and making history. It’s really cool.”

This team set the standard that Radnor hopes to match on the same hallowed ground at HersheyPark Stadium. The District 1 Class 3A Champions will face the District 7 Martian Zone in the PIAA Finals at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Raptors are the first Delaware County women’s team since Strath Haven in 2002 to play for a state title. The last Radnor team to win the title was this group in 1999.

The teams have some strange similarities. Both are in the second highest division (then, class AA). Both came on the heels of a state girls’ lacrosse title the previous spring; Kelley and her fellow defenders Telian Schwarz and Julie Breedveld were key members of that team.

This experience informs the sharpness of the end of the match that defined this team, from the victory of Kate Boujoukos in the 77th minute in the semi-final to the equalizer in the 78th minute of Emily Daiutolo in the quarterfinals.

“Come to think of it, it’s all about the trip,” Kelley said. “At the start of this season, I thought it was really important for me, Telly and Julie to be like that, it’s possible for us to bring this team to the national final. We kind of knew what it took, and what it really took was courage and everyone to work together and bring us to this end state game.

Few people are as aware of the distance from yesterday to today as Alexandra Hill. She scored twice in that 1999 final, a 7-0 loss to Charleroi, including the opener after just 85 seconds. The “magic” team included Nikki Lieb, two-time Daily Times player of the year, while Ali Wean scored a final hat trick.

Hill would then work as an assistant coach for eight years at Conestoga, then as head coach at Haverford from 2013 to 2018.

The landscape of football has changed in some ways since Hill was a player. His team won at a time when a significant number of schools were still playing in the spring, including a handful of outfits from District 3 and Bucks County Power Plants. Hill points out that the 1999 squad silenced skeptics on several fronts, having defeated District 1 Class AAA Champion Conestoga and PIAA Class AAA Champion West Chester Henderson. His only loss was against Strath Haven, who made the AAA State Tournament. Radnor beat opponents 17-1, in the States, although his semi-final victory over southern Colombia in Hershey involved a 3-1 victory from behind.

“I remember all of our parents coming together around us because it was a team that had been together since we were very young,” she said. “I arrived a bit later, but I think most of the team had been together since they were 5 or 6 years old. I remember it was an amazing time for the players and the parents.

Hill attended Catholic school until eighth grade and was drawn to the public school by Radnor’s football culture. In Conestoga and Haverford, two districts also subject to intensive recruiting from private schools, she has done the hard work of creating community and connection to keep talented players staying.

“I remember as a coach I tried so hard to get everyone I knew to be good to try to stay and sell them on the idea that we were really good and that we could be. good, ”Hill said. “It was the community, in a way, and all the parents and the support system, helping too. And when you have a strong team, it’s easier to sell.

This week, Kelley and her teammates are feeling the support of the community, in a way that echoes the buses Hill saw flock to Hershey two decades ago. They enjoyed enthusiastic crowd support in Methacton for Tuesday’s semi-final, relishing a long-awaited string of successes. During that time, the Radnor boys’ program played two state finals, the last in 2018 to a Wilson team who gave up their title for fielding an ineligible player.

Kelley knows the excitement of a hunt for states.

“I think it’s the same level of excitement (like lacrosse), maybe even more for soccer because I feel like everyone is really supporting us,” she said. . “We didn’t really think we could go this far, but now that we’ve gotten to it, it definitely seems achievable. “

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