Ryan sisters proud to bring home title together

Two Ragdoll sisters relied on their trust of each other to help win the Catholic League championship and defeat Central.

Delaney (left) and Lauren McDonnell proudly hold the Catholic League championship after defeating Lansdale Catholic 1–0. SUPPLIED PHOTO

Delaney McDonnell doesn’t have to look far when she needs support on the soccer field.

All she has to do is look behind her and see her younger sister, Lauren.

Delaney is a senior midfielder on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team. Lauren is a junior defender.

On the field, they work well with everyone, but it definitely helps to have someone they know they can depend on playing so close by.

“I love playing with her because we play really well together,” Delaney said. “She’s very good, and she helps me a lot. I was injured so I missed some time, and she helped me a lot. She helped me get better and helped me once I got back.”

Delaney’s injured calf, which cost her a lot of conditioning, was something Lauren could relate to.

Last year, she suffered a broken ankle, which kept her inactive before training camp.

“She’s helped me a lot, so I helped her where I could,” Lauren said. “I loved playing with her, and I know my parents loved it. She’s a senior, so it’s fun that we were able to have this season to play together.”

They did more than play together.

They won together.

The Ragdolls won the Catholic League championship, then went on to defeat Central in the city championship game.

Their season came to an end in the the PIAA state playoffs when Ryan suffered a 5–0 setback to Owen J. Roberts, one of the better schools in the area.

The Golden Hornets are a good team, and they took advantage of miscues that were caused by extremely sloppy playing conditions during a storm at Northeast High School.

The loss wasn’t the way they wanted to go out, but the season was exactly what the Ragdolls were looking for.

A year after snapping a four-year Catholic League championship winning streak, the Ragdolls returned to glory this year by besting Lansdale Catholic.

State championships are nice, but according to the McDonnells, the goal going into the year was winning the league.

“Beating Lansdale Catholic was the biggest game for us, that was the best feeling,” Delaney said. “It meant a lot because we’re seniors. There are a lot of seniors on this team who really wanted to win, but it was for the entire team.”

“Winning the Catholic League championship was great because we won it together,” said Lauren, who spent her sophomore year playing both junior varsity and varsity depending on the game. “We have a lot of seniors, so we wanted to win it for them.”

It feels good for the entire team, but both sisters agree that it was pretty cool to win with their sibling.

“I love playing with her because we can yell at each other, we play right next to each other, but we do it because we want the other one to know what’s going on,” Lauren said. “We’re very close. She’s always helped me, and I love to help her when I can.”

The feeling is mutual.

“She’s very good, she’s improved a lot,” Delaney said of her sister. “She’s gotten a lot better and she’s made our team a lot better. It’s been fun watching her get better. She’s worked hard and it shows.”

The girls have helped each other get better.

So has the newest addition to their family, Reese, a half-pitbull, half-beagle who joined the McDonnell family over the summer.

Keeping up with the pooch has proved to keep the girls in shape.

“She’s crazy, but we love her,” Lauren said. “She’s always running around. She’s our dog, me and my sister, so we do get in shape playing with her. She’s always running around.”

Reese will now help the sisters get ready for next year.

Delaney is eying a college soccer career, where she hopes to major in occupational therapy.

“I thought about being a physical therapist, but I did rehab for my injury and it was kind of boring,” Delaney said. “I think occupational therapy will be a better fit.”

And while she’s at college, Lauren will be back at Ryan for her senior year trying to lead the Ragdolls to another title.

Ryan says goodbye to 11 seniors, so it won’t be easy, but Lauren likes the Ragdolls’ chances if they put in the work.

“It will be a lot different because there’s just four seniors, so we’ll be young,” Lauren said. “We’ll miss the seniors, but I think we can win it again. It’s tough, but I think we have a lot of good players back.”