Blazers beat Whitman 9–8 for first time in 12 years
BLAZER STADIUM, March 22 -
This story was based on post-game interviews only and not on a first-hand account.
After overcoming a point loss early in the game, the girls' varsity lacrosse team dominated the Whitman Vikings 9–8 on both offense and defense, granting them the first victory against Whitman since the beginning of Blair's girls' lacrosse program. By keeping the lead they secured by halftime, the Blazers overcame Whitman's key players with stick dexterity and strong defense.
Head coach Michael Horne was elated by Blair's performance, identifying Whitman as a top team with a history of success. "Whitman has a storied winning tradition and is one of the toughest teams in the county year in and year out," he said. "It was a great win for the team and for the girls' lacrosse program at Blair on the whole."
Although the Vikings initially set the tone for the game by claiming an early 1–4 lead, the Blazers shot down any hope of a Whitman victory by adding four points to their score before halftime. "We showed great mental toughness and bounced back," Horne said. "The girls re-focused and began to win the ground ball game and move the ball efficiently and effectively and this helped us to take the lead."
Senior captain Nellie Garlow attributed the team's comeback to the successful control and guarding of a few key Whitman players. "Once we took out and covered the star players, they were in trouble," she said. "We stepped it up and chipped away to get more points."
After that comeback, Blair sped ahead undaunted. The girls posted four more points on the scoreboard, bringing their lead to 9 – 5 early in the second half. Horne identified Garlow, the attack wing, and sophomore Rachel Smith as the top Blair scorers. Garlow was responsible for three points and Smith netted two goals and one assist.
Garlow attributed the team's strong offense to a number of talented players; at least four or five girls made shots during the game. "This year we have so many different players that can score," she said. "It's easy for the offense to work because we don't have to rely on one player…We play well as a team."
Although the Blazers were in a great position throughout the second half, Whitman scored a hair-raising three points toward the end of the game, almost threatening Blair's secured victory. Horne noted the Vikings' remarkable perseverance and ability to jump back into the game. "Whitman never gave up and mounted a comeback. Fortunately our defense was able to hold on and secure the win for us," he said.
Horne recognized defensive power as key to Blair's win, commending senior goalie Annie Buckley as a leader of Blair's strong defensive unit. "[She] made some very clutch saves in goal throughout the whole game, but especially within the last five minutes of the game. It was her first career start in goal and she showed incredible maturity and leadership," he said. Senior defense wing Emily Hedrick, sophomore Julia Lewando and juniors Ava Wallace and Sana Barclay also showed aggression against a potent Whitman offense. "Our defense helped us to weather a late Whitman storm and seal the victory," Horne said.
The Blazers have also sharpened midfield transitions and refined shooting skills since pre-season, when they initially lost to Whitman in a scrimmage. Now Garlow believes Blair has exceeded the Vikings in stick skill and coherence. "We've improved drastically; they're still working out the kinks," she said.
Overall, Horne said the girls were ecstatic about their historic win, but will continue to direct their energies toward further practice and improvement. "The team was thrilled with the victory, but remains focused and humble," he said. "We have a very tough schedule this year and the team is excited about the challenge. Hopefully this is the start of many more successes this season."
Horne also acknowledged that the win was especially thrilling because it was the girls' first home game on the newly re-surfaced Blair Stadium.
Girls' lacrosse plays its next home game on April 10 against B – CC at 4:00 p.m.
Editor's Note: Senior Annie Buckley is Managing Sports Editor for Silver Chips Print. Junior Ava Wallace is a staff writer for Silver Chips Online.
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