North County girls lacrosse coach Tom Taylor was willing to try anything to contain Old Mill's Alison Zaetz, even if it meant sacrificinga little offense.
Or a lot of offense.
Taylor instructed his leading scorer, Stephanie Meyer, to mark Zaetz during the first half of yesterday's game. But the move backfired, as the senior attacker converted her first four shots and scored five goals during the half in Old Mill's 15-9 victory.
"I didn't really think too much about it," Zaetz said. "I'm usually double-teamed,or have their best defender on me. But I was surprised they put their best offensive player on me. I guess she's their best player, though."
Meyer, a senior attacker, entered the game with 36 goals,but was limited to two -- both coming in the second half, after Old Mill had built a 12-3 lead.
Last season, Meyer had 35 goals and 28 assists at Andover.
Zaetz scored six goals and assisted on another before Patriots' coach Bruce Sponsler removed her with 18 minutes, 31 seconds left in the second half. She now has 37 goals this season and 164 in her four-year varsity career.
That kind of output led Taylor to resort to drastic measures.
"I tried to out-think (Sponsler) and marked up our best player on their best player, and what that does is take away our offense," Taylor said.
"This is the second time trying to out-coach somebody got me in trouble. We play much better when we just play our game."
Thanks to Zaetz, who also gathered 15 ground balls, the Knights never were in the game.
"Alison just can't be stopped one-on-one. The team that double-teams the best is the team that holds her to the least goals," said Sponsler.
Zaetz has scored at least one goal in every game this year, including 10 in lastThursday's 14-12 win over South River.
"Zaetz is a tremendous ballplayer, just tremendous. And she has a good team around her," Taylorsaid.
That includes junior keeper Erin Kennedy, who made 12 savesbefore leaving with eight minutes remaining and the Patriots ahead, 15-5.
"She has been the most pleasant surprise for me this whole year," Sponsler said. "She's done an outstanding job. She works real hard, and she does everything the right way."
Taylor, meanwhile, did the "goalie shuffle," alternating starter Lisa Betz with Rachel Hyland.
Having both in the nets simultaneously probably wouldn't havemade a difference.
Old Mill scored on its first six shots to lead, 6-2, with just under seven minutes gone in the opening half.
Zaetz finally did miss, going wide right -- with Meyer shadowing her every step. Senior Kristen Timony, however, later converted a free position shot to keep the visiting Patriots rolling.
Timony finishedwith four goals and two assists. Freshman Michelle Salmon added three goals, and Nicole Bosse and Carrie Fretz one each.
Sponsler began substituting heavily in the second half, and the Knights (5-3 overall, 1-1 in the 4A League) scored the game's last five goals, including two each from Thomasina McCoy and Lisa Queen.
"He's a class act.He called the dogs off," Taylor said.
McCoy finished with three goals, and Kia Greene and Becky Webb had one apiece.
The Patriots are 5-4 overall (including a 13-5 win over the Knights in last month'sNorth County holiday tournament) and 2-3 in the league. They were 2-10 last season under former coach Jan Arnold.
"Bruce deserves an awful lot of credit," Taylor said. "He's done a nice job. He's got my vote for coach of the year."