Home Local Sports Ava Ruggieri’s goal in final minute sends Padua lacrosse to first-ever semifinal

Ava Ruggieri’s goal in final minute sends Padua lacrosse to first-ever semifinal

Ava Ruggieri of Padua scores the winning goal with 59 seconds left in regulation. The Dialog/Jason Winchell)

GREENVILLE – Padua, the sixth-seeded team in the girls lacrosse state tournament, punched its ticket to the semifinal round for the first time ever after defeating No. 3 Tower Hill, 12-11, on May 18. Junior Ava Ruggieri’s sixth goal of the day, coming with just 59 seconds remaining, gave the Pandas their final lead, and they held on for the win. The visitors were able to avenge an earlier loss to the Hillers.

The Pandas showed grit the whole afternoon as senior Jordan Bramble, playing through an injury, was dominant in the faceoff circle, helping her team to a big first-half lead. The Hillers did score the first goal of the game 53 seconds in as Nicole Crivelli found the net. The Pandas got the next two goals off free positions as Leah Czaplicki scored the first, followed by Ruggieri. The Hillers tied it as freshmen Lucy Nace scored her first with 19:05 left in the first half.

Jordan Bramble (9) and Kate MacLennan of Padua play defense against Tower Hill. (The Dialog/Jason Winchell)

This is when the Pandas took over. Bramble, Ruggieri and Czaplicki scored to give the visitors a 5-2 lead. The Hillers got one back when Crivelli scored her second goal, and Nace cut it to 5-4 with 7:26 left in the half. The Pandas ended the first half on a four-goal run behind a pair from Rachel Delate, Ruggieri and Czaplicki added goals to give the Pandas a 9-4 lead at intermission.

Ruggieri’s fourth goal with 17:01 left gave Padua a 10-5 lead. Tower then went on a blitz scoring three times in a six-minute span to cut the lead to 10-8. The Pandas responded, and Ruggieri scored her fifth with 8:46 left to extend the Pandas’ lead to three.

The Hillers wouldn’t go away, adding the next three tallies as to tie it at 11 with 2:16 left. Bramble won the next faceoff thanks to a great groundball pickup by Delate. The Pandas ran their offense, and Ruggieri earned a free position with 1:02 left. She would convert, and Bramble won the next faceoff, allowing the Pandas to burn off valuable seconds. The Hillers got the ball back back with 12 seconds to go but could not get the equalizer.

Aimee Cathers had eight saves for the Pandas. Delate had three goals, Czaplicki two and Bramble the other. The Pandas (13-3) will face second-seeded Archmere on Tuesday. The Pandas beat the Auks, 11-10, on May 1 in Claymont.

The Hillers got five goals from Crivelli, while Nace added four. Tower finished the season at 13-3.

Fourth-seeded Ursuline, the other Catholic school remaining in the field, advanced to the semifinals with a 21-6 win over St. Andrew’s. The Raiders take on defending state champion and top-seeded Cape Henlopen.