John Knebels

Sports Columnist

DREXEL HILL – When they hear the jokes, Archbishop Carroll’s lacrosse players have learned to smile and just accept the ribbing.

The ribbing, after all, is a major compliment.

Their friends muse that perhaps the Catholic League should be separated in half; on one side could be Carroll, and on the other side could be the rest of the teams. Or that maybe the Patriots should just automatically be given the league trophy and have everyone else vie for second place. {{more}}

Embellished tributes. Dominance will do things like that.

On a dreary, muggy and drizzly afternoon May 24 at Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, Archbishop Carroll seized its 10th consecutive Catholic League title. For the sixth straight season, Archbishop Wood was the unwilling bridesmaid, this time losing 13-6, despite a solid start during which the Vikings took a 1-0 lead on a goal by sophomore Alyssa Andress and were tied at 2-2 late in the first half.

But like they have done so often during this past decade, Carroll erupted with a torrid display of offense. The Patriots scored five goals in just under two minutes, and, suddenly, the Pats led 7-2. By halftime, the resilient Vikings had notched two more goals to make the score 7-4. But a head injury suffered by star Caitlyn McCartney midway through the first half took a major toll on the upset-minded Vikings.

“She is our catalyst,” said Wood coach Chris Aquilino. “She didn’t want to come out of the game, but you can’t take a chance with that type of injury. I felt bad for her. The rest of the girls played hard, but Cait does so many things for us that made coming back a lot tougher.”

According to Carroll star junior Hannah Schmitt, with or without McCartney, the Patriots took their foe very seriously.

Part of that approach stemmed from a regular-season classic that saw Carroll survive an 11-10 victory over a Wood team that was trying to become the first Catholic League team to topple the Patriots in 10 seasons. As it stands now, Carroll has won 133 straight league games.

“We don’t come in and just think we are going to win,” said Schmitt, who tallied three goals. “We have a lot of respect for the teams we play.”

That philosophy was echoed by Carroll coach Lorraine Beers.

“Lacrosse continues to get better, and more players are developing and coming along,” said Beers. “You look at a team like Wood. They are a very good team. They have done a great job with their program.”

Senior Genni Hull, who led all scorers with four goals, didn’t feel completely relaxed until Carroll had opened up a comfortable lead and time was ticking away.

“They played us tough the last time, so we had to play hard until the end,” said Hull. “That’s why our program has been so successful, because we really work hard.”

Carroll is hoping that the hard work will result in some wins against the PIAA teams that represent District 12, which Carroll has now won two years straight. The Patriots will begin post-season play on June 1 against the District 1 fourth-place team. The contest is tentatively scheduled to be played at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School.

John Knebels can be reached at