Twin Valley checks all the boxes, dominates Wilson in Berks girls lacrosse showdown [updated]

Mike Drago, Reading Eagle, Pa.
·3 min read

Apr. 9—Anna Kaplan said she never gets nervous about playing a top opponent, but the Twin Valley junior admitted to reservations before playing seven-time Berks champ Wilson Thursday.

"Watching the film (of the Bulldogs' early demolition of Hempfield) I was freaking out," she admitted. "Seeing all the turnovers (they caused) made me a little (worried)."

Teammate Emma Raines eased those concerns with a pair of early goals and the Raiders' defense played lights out in an 18-8 Berks League rout at Gurski Stadium.

The victory — the first for the Raiders (2-0, 5-0) over the Bulldogs — stamps Twin Valley as a legit contender for the BCIAA title.

"They were the team to beat this year, so I feel pretty confident about the rest of the games this season," Kaplan said.

The Raiders never have won a Berks playoff game but were gaining momentum in 2019, when they qualified for the BCIAA tournament for the first time. They had high hopes for 2020 — before the season was wiped out by the coronavirus.

They returned this season full of promise, and with two of the league's top players in Raines and Kaplan, and they put it all together in dominating the Bulldogs (1-1, 3-1).

Raines and Kaplan each scored six goals — they've combined for 38 goals, and rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the league in scoring — and Julia Givens had three goals and four assists.

The most impressive aspect of the victory was the way the Raiders defended the net. They battled the high-scoring Bulldogs for position, cut off lanes to the goal and got a huge effort from goalie Ava Morrow, who turned back 14 shots. They held Wilson to less than half its season average.

"They did awesome," Anna Kaplan said of her defense. "Ava went off; she had so many amazing saves. Our defense had great sides and communication, a lot of interceptions. Everyone worked together so well."

Wilson scored 53 goals in its first three games, and was winning by an average of 13 goals.

"Ava was seriously amazing," said Twin Valley coach Courtney Kaplan. "She is just super athletic, and her instincts are on point. She's just naturally solid in there."

"We really stepped it up with our defense," Morrow said. "I thought we did so good. We did really well on the cross, and (with) everyone just getting a stick on the ball. That helped me a lot. Everyone was doing a good job with helping and communication."

The Raiders were great on draws and Morrow got the ball out quickly after stops to set up breakouts.

It all added up to one of the most-lopsided losses the Bulldogs have experienced against a Berks opponent in years. The only thing close was an 18-9 defeat to Exeter in 2012. No one has come close to dominating them since.

Raines scored the game's first two goals and Raiders led 3-0 less than three minutes in; they held the lead the rest of the way.

"As soon as we hit the first three goals I was just psyched," Anna Kaplan said. "I said, 'This is gonna be a good game.' "

The Bulldogs pulled within 5-4 midway through the first half but the Raiders answered with five straight goals to lead 10-4. Their lead grew to eight with 10 minutes left as the Bulldogs struggled to control the ball and get scores.

"This was another box that we wanted to check," Courtney Kaplan said. "When we set goals at the beginning of the year, almost everybody said we just want to beat Wilson. Checking that box was huge."