St. Paul's holds off NDP, 12-10, in semifinal

Gators win 13th straight, play Roland Park for title

IAAM A Conference lacrosse

High Schools

May 08, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Notre Dame Prep's banner on the fence at St. Paul's said it all for both teams: "Now or never."

Known for peaking at tournament time, No. 10 NDP rallied from five goals down in the second half to tie, but No. 1 St. Paul's proved its postseason savvy and became the team of the moment.

The Gators slammed the brakes on defending champion NDP's momentum with goals from Liz Schwarcz, Caity Whiteley and Sarah Seats in the final three minutes for a 12-10 victory in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference lacrosse semifinal.

The Gators (15-1-1) advanced to meet No. 12 Roland Park for the championship at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow at Loyola College. Visiting Roland Park rallied from four goals down in the second half to upset No. 4 Severn, 7-6, in the other semifinal.

St. Paul's won its 13th straight game thanks in large part to a nine-save performance from goalie Lydia Sanza as well as a big defensive play by Jackie Blucher and efficient shooting late in the game.

"They've knocked us out of the tournament [the past two years]," said the Gators' Megan Del Monte, who had a goal and an assist. "They may have thought this was about revenge, getting us back for the regular season [a 7-6 Gators win], but for us, we've never gotten past them in the tournament in our careers, so we had nothing to lose."

Most of the game, the teams had matched each other, tying four times in the first half before the Gators took off on a 5-0 run that NDP answered with a 5-0 run of its own. With 4:59 to go, NDP's Molly Ford whipped a low shot from about 8 meters out to cap the Blazers' five-goal run and pull even at 9-9.

The Gators won the next draw, which led to Schwarcz's goal. After the Blazers (14-5-1) controlled the ensuing draw, Blucher checked the ball away from Sarah Hackman, beginning a transition series that resulted in Whiteley netting the winner for an 11-9 lead with 1:52 left.

"Their pressure, even though it got a lot of turnovers for them, it also gave us an opportunity to get some good looks," said Gators coach Jim Stromberg.

For the Blazers, who had won two of the previous three A Conference crowns, Ford scored on a free-position with one minute left, but St. Paul's won the next draw and Whiteley fed Seats in transition to put the game away.

In the other semifinal at Severn, Roland Park (8-6-2) proved it should not be underestimated even though the Reds finished with a sub-.500 regular-season record.

The Reds held Severn (12-2-2) scoreless for the final 20:08 as Taylor Fragapane scored the winner with 3:55 left, and goalie Ellen Cameron made three big saves to preserve the victory.

Jess Adam's second goal gave the Admirals a 5-1 lead, but the Reds responded by picking up the defensive pressure, dominating possession and solving the puzzle of Severn goalie Regan Bosch, who made almost all of her 11 saves by early in the second half.

"With 14 minutes left, it looked like they were going to stall, so we put the pressure on," said Reds coach Sarah Layng. " ... We just decided we were going to fight back."

The Reds' run began when Michele Slotke fed Brittany Kalkstein off the set offense with 13:30 to go. Wendy Blue and Katie Atkins then added free-position goals to pull within 5-4.

Atkins tied it with 5:30 to go, cutting through the arc and taking a perfect pass from Kalkstein, before Blue connected with Fragapane for the winner.

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