Radnor Girls Soccer Reflects on a Historic Season


Photo taken by Margarita Moreland

Edy MacKenzie, Associate Editor

Soccer, like most other sports, is about numbers. How many goals scored, how many goals against, how many minutes remaining. Rankings, divisions, records, even the number on the back of a player’s jersey. But for Radnor Girls Soccer this year, the figures didn’t matter. Not to say Radnor’s numbers weren’t impressive; the team had a historic run to the PIAA 3A State Championship, won District 1 back in early November, and were the first RGS team to go this far since 1999. They earned a regular season record of 14-4, they won 11 games in a row at the end of their season coming into playoffs, and they never lost a game wearing their black home jerseys. Winning certainly felt good, but it wasn’t until Radnor’s loss at Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday, November 20, that all those victories came into perspective. It was never about staying alive in the tournament to earn the title so much as it was about every game representing another opportunity to continue playing together.

A common phrase tossed around throughout the RGS season was “You can’t get rid of us.” No matter what it took, Radnor girls fought until the last minute for the next game, the next practice, the next chance to spend time with each other. Behind all of the team’s numbers and victories lies a powerful connection between players.

Whether that tight bond presented itself in pre-game bus rides, team dinners, or play on the field, no one could deny its presence. “This team is really special because we have the perfect balance of fun and work,” commented Senior Lucy Minning on her favorite aspect of this season’s group. “We did fun things all year like the scavenger hunt, pasta parties, sleepover, and just hanging out after we worked hard at practice or a game. Overall we have just extremely talented players all around and our bond makes our team greater.”

If anyone were to doubt the love that grew among the team this season, they could simply ask any player how they felt in Radnor’s second State game against Northwestern Lehigh at Exeter High School. Down 0-1 three minutes before the buzzer, all hope looked lost. It wasn’t until the referee called a foul committed against Junior Lyla Wallis, giving Senior Captain Emily Daiutolo an easily scored penalty shot, that the bench could stop shaking with the fear of a finished season. Thankfully, Freshman Ivy Chaskelson secured the game-winning goal, avoiding penalty kicks for a 2-1 finish. Senior Malie Dell’Orco described the moment as her favorite memory: “At the end of the game everyone was crying and everyone hugged each other while sobbing out of happiness.” A miraculous opportunity to win in overtime usually wouldn’t warrant tears, but there was no dry eye for the Raptors. Such a narrow victory resonated deeply with the players; they never again wanted to face almost losing the rest of their season.

The surprising emotion of the State Quarterfinal that day may hint that RGS had never before found themselves in precarious positions, with the fate of the game lying in balance: this isn’t true. Within matchups, the team never seemed to make it easy on themselves. In the season opener against private school rival Agnes Irwin, Radnor went down 2-0 in the second half, but RGS pulled it together and tied the game 2-2. With 11 seconds left on the clock and significant anxiety, Senior Captain Kate Boujoukos saved the day with a game-winning header. “[It] was a great start to our season and one of my favorite memories,” recalls Kate. “It definitely foreshadowed how throughout our season we were never going to give up.”

History repeated itself later in the season, and it was Boujoukos who again led the team to a 3-2 victory off a header, this time in post-game territory vs. Garnet Valley. “I would consider that game to be the major turning point in our season in leading us to our success,” says Kate. Radnor faced their fair share of adversaries throughout the season, but they learned from their various experiences, never giving up on their State Championship dream.

RGS’s sisterhood certainly carried them incredibly far, but none of this season’s accomplishments would stand if it weren’t for RGS’s talent, both mental and physical. A four-month season, spanning from August to November, is a long time to play a high-pressure high school sport. For the team, maintaining a healthy mind and body was crucial to their long-lasting success. “From August it was extremely gratifying to watch their growth, progression and improvement each and every day,” said Assistant Coach Diana Anders. “It was evident this team was special.”

Coach Diana also mentioned the relationship between players in different grades: “With our strong, experienced senior class and [having] them backed with a group of talented underclassmen, it was the perfect recipe for our team success.” This season, 14 Seniors played on RGS, and every one of them made a lasting impact on the whole group. Their hard work and dedication to the team did not go unrewarded. Both the accomplishments and the overall harmony of the group contributed to a gratifying end to their time playing soccer at Radnor.

“I love the girls on the team,” told Senior Devon Bernabeo. “It was a really great four years of RGS.” Senior Captain Olivia Kelley expressed a similar view: “It’s been the best four years being with RGS and I’ll never forget all the memories.”

“I could not have asked for a better group of girls to end my high school career with,” stated Senior Captain Jane Daiutolo. “I’m thankful for every moment we spent together.”

Of course, RGS continues to thank their loyal fans, the Ruckus, for contributing to many victories. It isn’t a coincidence Radnor Girls never lost a home game. The crowd’s continuous encouragement throughout the regular season and into playoffs made a lasting impact. Whether they showed their support at Radnor’s Homecoming during the halftime of RGS’s District playoff matchup against Villa Maria, in the first State tournament game vs. Greencastle Antrim home on Encke, or even on the road throughout postseason, the Ruckus made an impression. In particular, Sophomore goalie Mallory Toomey, who had the student section roaring with each save, felt the crowd’s significance: “I loved every minute when they were at our games and the feeling of having a crowd go wild for you is unmatched. Our team wouldn’t have had as much of a following or have had as much fun as we did without the Ruckus.”

“I have one memory of the Ruckus that stands out,” Mallory adds. “It was when we were getting our silver medals, and when our names were called they just went CRAZY.”

Although RGS won second in the State championship game, their District 1 showdown vs. Villa Joseph Marie ended in gold medals for each player. Despite close games throughout the playoffs leading up to the final at Strath Haven, Radnor shut out Villa Joseph, who had previously held the District title, with a 3-0 score. Sophomore Selah Koleth scored the first two, and Freshman Olivia Jacobs the last. Mallory and her defensive line kept the reigning champs from scoring throughout all 80 intense minutes.

One District title and three conquered State playoff matches later, RGS traveled to Hersheypark Stadium on a chilly fall Saturday. Preparing to face Mars Area High School, the players geared to put up a strong and relentless fight. Early in the first half, Selah Koleth scored, giving the Raptors an important lead that held for the majority of the game. Radnor continued to push forward and look for chances, but Mars managed to even the score 1-1 heading into postgame territory. One completed 20 minute overtime later, the game remained tied. During the second overtime, Mars secured the golden goal to win the State title for their third year in a row.

Stunned faces. Tear-streaked faces. But nevertheless, grateful faces. Radnor Girls Soccer may have lost the PIAA 3A State Championship game, but they accomplished something even more rewarding: an incredibly bonded team and a completely fulfilled season. RGS 2021 truly had a historic impact on Radnor’s soccer program and the school as a whole. This year’s success will never be forgotten by the players who contributed to such an achievement, nor by the community members who lived it alongside the team.

“Our supportiveness and love for one another allowed us to get far in the season,” summed up Senior Tellian Schwarz. “Being on such a supportive team made every moment enjoyable. That’s why we were so driven to go far in the playoffs. It’s because every time we started a game we knew we were playing for another day to play with each other. If I had a chance to go back and experience this season all over again, I would do it.”