The J.L. Mann girls were the victors in Saturday’s state lacrosse championship against Bishop England. But the Patriots had to hold off a furious rally to avoid becoming victims of the biggest upset since the High School League sanctioned the sport four years ago.

The Bishops scored three goals in a span of 27 seconds in the last minute of the game, but came up short as the Patriots held on for a 15-14 decision at White Knoll High School.

“A play here, a play there,” Bishop England coach Jeff Weiner said. “If we get a score on our last possession, who knows what would have happened?”

Said J.L. Mann coach Kristy Schumacher: “It wasn’t the game I thought it would be. It was very tense in the end. They were ready to play.

“They are well-coached and have a very athletic team. They played their best 50 minutes of the year.”

It was a match of momentum. The Bishops led 4-1, but the Patriots rallied for a 7-5 halftime lead as Meghan Lovine scored five of her eight goals in the first half.

The Patriots pushed their lead to 13-6 when Emma Anderson scored with 15:53 left in the match, and were still leading by a comfortable margin, 15-11, with 6:19 remaining.

The Bishops made it 15-12 when Cora Petyak scored with 38 seconds left in the match. Jordan Mitchell cut the deficit to two goals with a goal just 13 seconds later. Petyak scored her second goal of the match to cut the lead to 15-14 with 11 seconds left. The Bishops had a possession in the final seconds, but couldn’t get the goal.

The third-ranked Bishops played the top-ranked Patriots two times this season and dropped 17-9 and 16-3 decisions.

“I guarantee you, this was their toughest game of the year against an in-state team,” Weiner said. “Look what they did in the playoffs. They manhandled everybody.”

The Patriots outscored their playoff foes 67-15 heading into Saturday’s game, but the goals were less frequent against a young BE team that started only one senior (Petyak).

J.L. Mann won its first state title after finishing runner-up last year. The Patriots finished with a 21-1 record.

Bishop England made its first appearance in the championship. The Bishops finished at 15-5.

“Their experience was a factor,” Weiner said. “That and the fact they had nine seniors. They have been playing together for four years.

“We had one senior starter and our girls have been playing together a year or two. I can’t wait to see what happens next year. We are young. We talk about what we want to do and then forget to do it. That’s inexperience.”

Elena Bosco, Taylor Kennington and Mitchell all scored three goals for the Bishops. Petyak and Isabel Burnett scored two goals apiece.

Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil