Scoring 100 career goals during a high school lacrosse career is a heck of an accomplishment under any circumstances.
But when you’re new to the sport and miss two seasons due to the pandemic, it’s an even bigger accomplishment.
That’s exactly what Riley Gurten did at New Foundations Charter High School last week when she netted her 100th career goal during a victory over Delaware Valley in a lopsided victory for the Bulldogs.
Not bad for a kid who never picked up a lacrosse stick until she got to high school, and even then had a long delay before the longtime soccer star could truly consider herself a lacrosse player.
“My mom wanted me to play another sport and lacrosse was something similar to soccer, just played with a stick,” said Gurten, who lives in Holmesburg. “And I played soccer, and it’s the same coach, so I felt comfortable playing for him. So I decided to try it.
“I wanted to play, but freshman year it was canceled and sophomore year was on and off. We barely played. Freshman year I would work out with my friend from middle school, (Alivia Padilla), she’s an assistant coach now, and she was motivating me even when we weren’t playing. I always wanted to be like her so I would practice in my backyard and whenever we had a scrimmage, I would try my hardest. But junior year, we started playing and I started playing seriously.”
Ever since, she’s been a natural.
Gurten got off to an amazing start, scoring 55 goals during her inaugural season playing the sport. This year, she’s added 48 to give her 103 goals and counting.
“It means so much to get this,” she said. “It’s a team thing. We have a very good team.”
And one of her teammates is very close to her.
On the same day Gurten netted her 100th goal, one of her teammates scored her first career goal. That was her younger sister Charlotte, who also plays soccer. For Gurten, it was just as exciting seeing her sister score as it was for her to hit the century mark.
“She was really hesitant about trying out for soccer but I pushed her,” Gurten said of her younger sister. “Over the summer we practiced and after soccer, she turned out loving it. I told her she’d love lacrosse, too, and it’s the same team (a lot of the girls play both sports). She was hesitant, I pushed her to keep going. Her looking up to me motivates me because I want to set a good example and show her that hard work pays off in the end.”
Her sister is a quick learner.
Not only did she score in the game, she provided a helper on Gurten’s milestone goal. Gurten returned the favor by picking up an assist on her sister’s first tally.
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Sports have always been a family affair for the Gurtens. While the daughters are playing, mom Kathleen is at every game she’s able to make, cheering her team on. While she’s doing that, Gurten’s grandmom Frances McGoldrick serves as the team’s unofficial photographer, capturing all the great moments.
The support isn’t new.
According to Gurten, her mom and grandmom have been huge throughout her athletic career. And while she’s enjoying a great lacrosse career, Gurten is a soccer player first.
“Soccer, I played for a bunch of clubs, but now I just play for the school,” said Gurten, who works in food services at the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. “I’m mostly (an offensive player) in lacrosse, but in soccer, I played everywhere, defense, midfield, wherever they put me I played. I’m a player who will go where you need me to play. That’s where I’ll play, whatever is best for the team.
“I try to be a good leader for everyone and by playing anywhere, I think that helps. It shows that I’m willing to do whatever I can to help the team. We have a lot of girls like that. We have a really good team, and we’re starting to come together. When you’re in the playoffs, every game could be your last, so you don’t want to lose. You don’t want that to be the end.”
While Gurten’s high school career is rapidly coming to an end, she has fun times in her future. Next year she’s bound for West Chester, where she will major in pre-physical therapy.
“I really want to be involved with sports and make a good amount of money,” she said “I can later on, choose to be on the sports side of it, and help athletes. I’ll always help people, but I want to be involved in sports. I always wanted to be a soccer star, but reality hit in middle school. This way, I can still be involved with sports.”
And while she’s looking forward to the next step, she’ll always remember lessons learned and the fun she experienced at New Foundations.
“I really love our school,” said Gurten, who will come back to watch her sister and her former teammates play. “They put students first, there was never a time I ever questioned, ‘Can I talk to my coach or teacher.’ They’re always willing to put students first. Always helping with anything, homework, trouble on the field, they’ll tell you what to improve on. But I’ll be back to see how they do.”