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Party time for Ursulines during Sister School Tournament

OAKLAND • Ursuline Academy junior netminder Lauren Cole had just given up a whopping 16 goals.

And she wore a great big smile on Thursday afternoon.

The 11th annual Ursuline Sister School Girls Lacrosse Tournament features four Ursuline schools from around the country.

Ursuline Academy of Wilmington, Delaware, rolled past the St. Louis-based Bears 16-1 in the opening round of the three-day round-robin affair in Oakland.

But the final score was almost inconsequential.

"Normally, if we lost like this, we would be mad," explained Cole. "But we're making friends with other players from our sister schools. That's the best part. That's why we love this so much."

Or as Bears senior midfielder Campbell Kennedy said, "It's all about sisterhood."

The Ursuline School of New Rochelle, New York, and Ursuline Academy of Dedham, Massachusetts, round out the annual four-team extravaganza, which rotates its location from year to year.

Each school plays the other one time during the six-match affair.

"These girls here are making friends with each other that will last long after high school," Ursuline-St. Louis athletics director Jen Brooks said. "These are our are sisters."

The event features plenty of bonding between the teams. They all will meet at Ballpark Village in downtown St. Louis for dinner on Friday. They also are scheduled to attend a mass together.

"We always love seeing other people and playing other teams," Ursuline-Delaware junior sniper Jane Lyons said. "It's important to us."

Lyons, an NCAA Division I prospect, led the Raiders with five goals and three assists on Thursday.

"I think everyone enjoys the experience of just sharing what this weekend means," Ursuline-Delaware athletics director Susan Heiss said. "Making new friends and seeing new things, that's why this is special."

The Raiders (6-2) come from a lacrosse-crazy state where the sport is more in the mainstream.

Ursuline-Delaware brought a different style of play to the tournament — a high-level, faster game that the Bears rarely run up against.

That became apparent in the early going as the Raiders raced out to a 7-0 lead in the first 10 minutes and 13 seconds.

Ursuline-Delaware led 12-0 at the break before the Bears finally made some noise.

Kennedy tallied from close range off a sharp basket-to-basket pass from Kayla O'Toole just 39 seconds into the second of two 25-minute halves.

"It was a great play," said Kennedy, who leads the team with 16 goals. "She did the hardest part."

The Bears actually did not play badly. Cole, who was under siege from the opening whistle, made several fine saves in the opening half.

"If we had lost to someone like Nerinx Hall, our rival, this would hurt," Cole said. "But we learned some things and got to see real good competition."

Ursuline-Delaware is the alma mater of WNBA standout Elena Delle Donne and actress Aubrey Plaza among its most famous alumni. Delle Donne, a 6-foot-5 forward who plays for the Washington Mystics, still works out at the school on a regular basis.

The Bears, who fell to 4-5, are hoping for a better showing, at least on paper, when they face The Ursuline School at 3:15 p.m. Friday. They close the tournament against Ursuline-Massachusetts at 10 a.m. Saturday.  

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