NDP rally results in first loss for Wright

Third-ranked Blazers erase three-goal deficit, edge No. 4 Mustangs, 9-8

Girls lacrosse

High Schools

April 18, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Wins would be coming much easier this season if the Notre Dame Prep girls lacrosse team could simply skip the first half.

The No. 3 Blazers have spent many a second half making up for lost time, and yesterday's recovery at No. 4 C. Milton Wright was as impressive as it was necessary.

Picking up their intensity as well as most of the ground balls, the Blazers effectively dug themselves out of a three-goal deficit with five straight second-half goals and then survived a dizzying final 20 seconds in front of their cage to earn a 9-8 win over the previously undefeated Mustangs.

Senior midfielder Becky Lillemoe scored four goals to lead the comeback for the Blazers, who improved to 8-3. The Mustangs, who got three goals from senior midfielder Kadie Stamper, fell to 7-1.

"This was a big win for us because we knew C. Milton Wright is doing real well and we knew how well they played us last season," said Notre Dame Prep coach Mary Bartel. "I think what it does is give us a little confidence, but also tells us we have a lot more work to do."

Trailing 4-1 early and then 7-4 at the half after the Mustangs got goals from senior Katie McHugh and Stamper in the last 32 seconds of the first half, the Blazers took over in the second half with a hungry approach to winning ground balls and smarter and more aggressive double teams on defense. And they made sure on their scoring chances at the offensive end.

Lillemoe scored in front to start the second-half scoring run five minutes in to make it 7-5. Molly Ford, Luren Cannon and Caitlyn McFadden followed to give the Blazers an 8-7 lead with 11:01 left.

Lillemoe's last goal in transition less than a minute later proved to be the game-winner, as the Mustangs got a goal from Gina Maranto with 9:44 left, but no more. In the final seconds, Christina Frank had a chance go wide and Stamper tried to get to the cage but was cut off with some smart help defense as time expired with the ball on the ground in front of Blazers goalie Alexandra Piraino.

"We seem to lack intensity in the first half, and in the second half seem to turn it up which is kind of a problem," said Lillemoe. "We need to start stepping up for the whole game instead of just the second half. It's been a problem, and right now we're just trying to work through that and figure out how we can play more intense in the first half."

The Mustangs knew the second-half storm would come from the Blazers, but were unable to stop it. C. Milton Wright coach Carl Greenberg said the difference in the second half was that the Mustangs didn't handle the Blazers' stepped-up pressure.

"They came out like we thought they would in the second half. They gave us a lot of pressure and got a real strong run at us and we didn't take the punch very well. But we'll learn from this," he said. "We're trying to get ourselves prepared for the next level. The wins and losses aren't as important as the competition we're seeing and the preparation we're trying to get in before the playoffs."

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