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St. Mark’s takes No. 2 seed, leads four Catholic schools in girls lacrosse tournament

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Catholic schools nabbed four of the 12 berths in the girls’ state lacrosse tournament, which begins with the first round on Thursday. Cape Henlopen, the nine-time defending champion, is the top seed, but St. Mark’s, Ursuline and Archmere took the next three seeds, respectively, and will have a bye until the second round.

The fourth Catholic school to make the field is Padua, seeded eighth. The Pandas finished the season 9-5, their third time in the four years the school has offered lacrosse that they were above .500. This is their second trip to the tournament; Padua won a game last season before bowing out at Archmere in the second round.

Liz Hennessy patrols the goal for Padua. (Dialog file)

Coach Erin Blansfield and her team will take on No. 9 St. Andrew’s at 4 p.m. Thursday at Tatnall. Padua does not have its own field, but they are the home team in the first round, and Tatnall installed a turf field last fall. The Saints, out of the Independent Conference, went 9-6 this season.

The Pandas’ offense is led by Rachel Delate, Grace DiGiovanni and Jordan Bramble. The last line of defense at goalkeeper is Liz Hennessy. Should Padua come away victorious against St. Andrew’s, they will travel to No. 1 Cape Henlopen for a second-round tilt at 7 p.m.

Megan Noonan is one of the Spartans many weapons. (Dialog file)

St. Mark’s completed an unbeaten 15-0 regular season on Monday with a 24-2 win at Concord. Tournament teams the Spartans played include Padua, Archmere, Wilmington Charter, Ursuline, Tower Hill, Polytech and St. Andrew’s.

The Spartans feature a veteran group heavy on seniors who reached the championship game last season. The leading scorers include Megan Noonan, Clare Estes and Kendra Schweizer, and Jacqueline Stofa mans the net. They will be at home on Saturday at 1 p.m. to meet the winner of No. 7 Newark Charter and No. 10 Appoquinimink.

Val Cradler offers a steadying presence for Ursuline. (Dialog photo)

The third seed, Ursuline, won its last 11 games after opening the season 2-2. The first game of the season was at home against Cape Henlopen in soggy conditions with snow along the sidelines. The other loss was to St. Mark’s. The Raiders’ wins included impressive victories against the likes of Polytech, Newark Charter, Archmere and St. Andrew’s.

The Raiders’ scoring comes from a variety of players, including Katherine Shroyer, Moira Carroll, Jane Lyons and Jordan Kenney. Brigid Monahan handled the majority of work in net. Ursuline awaits the winner of the Dover-Tower Hill match. The second-round game is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Serviam Field.

Archmere brings a 12-3 record into the tournament. (Dialog file)

No. 4 Archmere finished 12-3, winning nine of their last 10 matches. The Auks did not duck any competition, as they traveled to Cape, Wilmington Charter, Polytech, Archmere and Tower Hill. They played St. Mark’s, Newark Charter and Padua at home.

Players to watch for the Auks include Caroline Donovan, Kate Olsen, Sydney Yanick and Olivia Baldi. Freshman Maura Smeader has been a find in net. Archmere will be hosting the winner of the Polytech-Wilmington Charter first-round battle on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Tickets to all first- and second-round games are $5 and are available at the gate.

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