thanks to Tom Congdon and Ted Swoboda for the pictures!
It only took two OT’s this year . . .
But again we have a wonderful conclusion to the Girls’ high school season.
And Abby Spalding has forever cemented herself into Bishop Moore athletic lore.
After the game I talked with winning head coach Kelly Blystone and her biggest emphasis was on the heart of her team, not giving up and believing they could still win a game where they gave up a 6-goal run in less than 8 minutes to turn a 10-6 lead into a 12-10 deficit with two minutes to go. STA had done something similar to Barron Collier in the semifinal win yesterday and Raider Nation was in a state of nirvanic deja vu, thinking they were looking at a potential sweep of the FHSAA titles. But Bishop Moore’s kids dug deep and rapidly tied the game up, giving us, and the viewers on Spectrum Sports, some bonus lacrosse.
Coach Blystone’s comment certainly fit both teams.
Heart was in full bloom all game.
As was the importance of draw control.
In many lacrosse games on the Boys’ side it’s a matter of ground balls. But with the rule differences between the two versions that’s not always a similar correlation in the game.
But yesterday the Draw was the most, as my age group might remember.
The two teams traded goals to start the game and pretty much each was off the possession garnered at the circle. The sixth goal was STA’s with 16:30 left and it tied the game at 3. But from then on it was all Bishop Moore to end the half. Four straight goals as they completely dominated possession, getting off 18 shots in the half to STA’s 7. STA goalie Morgan Lusk started slow but was able to get hot later in the half to keep STA from falling behind by a larger margin. 6 different goal scorers helped BM to that lead and their offense patterns, which so impressed in the semifinal, was again finding open looks and inside shots.
Two of the biggest stars of these two teams, Jeanne Kachris of BM and Allie Beekhuizen of STA were relatively quiet on the scorecard but both made numerous plays within the middle of the field and they kind of took each other out of the offense at times. An interesting game within the game to watch.
After halftime the teams went back to the same back and forth following draws and with 12:07 left in the game Spalding gave BM the 10-6 lead and it looked like they were going to be secure with the lead.
But then STA kicked it into overdrive. Taking advantage of a faceoff draw run of their own, and an incredible 13 shots on goal from 14 shot attempts in the half, the STA offense put up 6 goals in the next 8:37 to take the 12-10 lead with 3:23 left. Caroline Stefans and Steinlauf chipped in 4 of the 6 in the run, and Beekhuizen and Cash adding one each. Cash’s second goal looked to be a backbreaker as the ball slowly eluded BM goalie Regan Alexander. Things looked bleak for BM as STA regained possession and started to milk the clock but when BM regained control it was Kate Piscopo and Jeanne Kachris scoring in a 32-second span to get the game back square with 1:23 left.
BM then was able to gain the final possession and when Spalding was given the free position look with seconds left on the clock it seemed the Hornets were going to complete the run in regulation but Lusk came up with the save to end regulation.
Each team had good looks in the first overtime but both goalies came up big. In the second overtime the back and forth continued until Spalding scored what was thought to be the game winner off the fast break, only to have it waived off for an STA violation, setting up the free position late in the OT.
And when the whistle blew play on she darted from the left side towards the middle and fired the right hand shot into the top right corner to give the Hornets the championship.
A Free Position . . .
It couldn’t end any other way.
Spalding opened the scoring at 23:46 unassisted as she took a left wing feed in the middle and face dodged the defense to hit the let side of the cage but only 8 seconds later it was Carly Steinlauf gathering up the draw and going down the right side before finding the low left side of the net for 1-1. BM’s Ellie Stricker then dodged the middle and finished with the left hand high at 22:55 for the lead. 41 seconds later it was tied again as Stefans hit the low right corner off the free position. Makayla Hoffman gave BM the lead back at 17:12 after a turnover lead to a fast break, with her converting to the short side. Stefans got that back on another free position when she weaved her way through the defense and shot high with 16:30 left.
But then BM went on their four goal run to end the half. First it was Nicole Blystone at 11:52 off the free position, then at 8:41 it was Kate Piscopo finding Hoffman cutting down the middle for the left wing feed. That was followed at 3:52 with Meredith Motern’s individual effort down the right side, weaving her way towards goal and the run was capped by Blystone’s working from right GLE to the front and finishing with the left hand bounce shot that barely eluded Lusk for the 7-3 lead.
STA’s Cash ended the run just 23 seconds into the second half as she dodged the right side and shot across her body, hitting the low left corner for 7-4. With 20:02 left it was Blystone finding Alessandra Fable in the middle for the open shot but Cash returned the favor at 18:11 off the free position shot. BM regained the four goal lead at 16:58 as Blystone also converted the free position. Cash then found Stefans from the right wing in the middle for the left hander with 13:10 to go but Spalding took the Piscopo feed in the middle for the high shot at 12:07, setting up the final scenario from above.
Never stopped beating for both sides.
A deserving champion, as the sport gets a new winner . . . and keeps us wanting more.
Faceoffs: STA 15-13
Shots: BM 30-23
Shots on Goal: 21 each (yes, STA put 21 of 23 shot attempts on goal!)
Turnovers: STA 14-11
Nicole Blystone 3G/1A
Abby Spalding 3G
Makayla Hoffman 2G
Ellie Stricker and Kate Piscopo 1G/2A each
Meredith Motern and Jeanne Kachris with 1G each
Regan Alexander with 9 saves
Caroline Stefans 5G
Gabriela Cash 3G/1A
Carly Steinlauf 3G
Allie Beekhuizen 1G
Jada Preston 1A
Morgan Lusk with 8 saves