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May 12, 2008

A poignant end to Blair's varsity girls' lacrosse season

by Jon Kesten, Online Foreign Desk Editor
BLAZER STADIUM, May 10 -

Coming off a first round bye earned by an impressive 9-3 regular season record, which also distinguished them as divisional co-champions, the varsity girls' lacrosse team fell to the B-CC Barons 16-5 Sunday afternoon, a sour ending to an otherwise groundbreaking season. Senior co-captain Helen Anderson led Blair's offense, scoring all five goals in the effort.

Despite the early exit, head coach Mike Horne remained positive as he remembered the bright season. "I don't look at this game as the whole season," Horne said. "Seeing how far we've come, it's easy to say that this was the best season ever." Indeed, the Lady Blazers had previously never been above .500.

After a rain delay, mud still beset Blair's stadium field by game time. Despite their time off, Blair came out fighting. Anderson struck first, leaping into the air to receive a pass in front of the B-CC goaltender. She then sent a lightning quick bounce shot to the back of the net to make the score 1-0 just over two minutes in.

The Barons fought back however, and five minutes later took control of the ball to even the score on a high shot over the shoulder of junior goalkeeper Katelyn Luker. Shortly after, B-CC upheld constant pressure on Blair's defense, as they were able to add to their lead with shots directly in front of Luker.

Still in the first quarter, Blair sophomore Nellie Garlow received a pass from senior Priyanka Gokhale and weaved through Baron defensive players for an open look at goal. Garlow's attempt to tie the game was denied however on an impressive save by the B-CC goalie. Throughout the game, players experienced turbulence due to the poor field conditions, as both teams slipped on the mud and were unable to make fast cuts.

At several key moments of the game, the Barons forced critical Blazer turnovers. In addition to multiple interceptions, the Barons capitalized on the mistakes of Blair's defense. Despite these setbacks, Blair continued to push forward and compete at a high level, most notably exemplified in Luker's performance. Under pressure, Luker was able to make acrobatic and firm saves, despite being continuously pounded on by the BCC offense.

With five minutes left in the first half, an instrumental B-CC player received a penalty and was forced to sit out for the remainder of the half. Although B-CC still scored three more goals after this incident, Blair exploited the opportunity by scoring two of their own. A minute later, Anderson set up behind the B-CC net, and executed an agile wraparound for her second goal.

Yet again, B-CC took the ball back and made several attempts to score on Luker, who denied as many as three shots in a row. With time winding down in the first half, Blair pounded the ball up the middle, reminiscent of the team that dominated during the regular season. Junior Vanessa Hoy efficiently passed to Anderson, who again scored on a high shot. At the end of the first half, the score was a tight 7-3, B-CC on top.

In the second half, the story continued to be B-CC scoring on a scattered Blair team. Though Blair played valiantly throughout the entirety of the game, it was not enough to stop the Barons' strong attack. By making solid passes around the Blair defense, B-CC kept Blair off guard, the most dangerous stretch occurring when the Barons scored three goals in three minutes on hard shots.

Blair never gave up still and struck back as Anderson drove toward the B-CC net from midfield and scored on a bounce shot. Building off of the momentum she created, Anderson scored again on a one-timer off a behind-the-net pass. This was Anderson's fifth and final goal.

B-CC relentlessly put Blair into uncomfortable situations on defense. On many goals, they exhibited swift passing that the weather only made more difficult to combat. B-CC continued to escalate their pressure for a final score of 16-5.

When the final whistle finally blew, teary-eyed Blazers walked towards the bench, their momentous season halting to a bitter end. "We have trouble working ourselves out of a hole, but we are going to keep on working to prepare for an even better next year," Hoy said. Hoy also commented on the difficulty of creating a prominent girls lacrosse program at Blair. "We're not a B-CC or a Whitman. Girls don't come into Blair freshman year having played their whole lives...we have to teach them step by step."

Horne, too, credited the team for their milestone accomplishments this season. "These girls drive the team," he said after the game. "Our success comes from them; they really want it - they proved it to me all season long. I'm just the lucky guy who coaches them."



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