Lady Blazers lose 15-6 in a tough season-opening matchup
BLAZER STADIUM, March 20 -
Coming off several successful preseason bids in the past week, the Blair varsity girls' lacrosse team (0-1) took the field on Friday pumped for their first game of the season against the defending regional champion Wootton Patriots (1-0). Unfortunately, the Patriots' skill and experience proved too much for the Lady Blazers, who lost the game 15-6 due to a lack of precision in passing and an inability to maintain strength in the defensive zone.
The Patriots wasted no time in establishing their lead, scoring four goals within the first 10 minutes of the game. All of these points were the result of quick Patriot passes in front of the goal, leaving senior co-captain and goalie Katelyn Luker under constant pressure. Luker responded admirably nonetheless, blocking shot after shot with skillful maneuvers. "Our goalkeepers made great saves," coach Michael Horne said of Luker and later goalie junior Annie Buckley.
The first half of the game was also characterized by frequent ball drops by the Lady Blazers, a weakness that the Patriots took full advantage of. In one instance, senior co-captain Susie Branson gained control of the ball and threw a spectacular pass to junior Nellie Garlow. But Garlow, surrounded by Patriot defenders, was unable to make the catch. The Patriots' defense made it hard for the Lady Blazers to get any good looks at the goal.
Eventually, it was Branson who boosted the team's morale by fighting through the ranks of Patriot defenders and skillfully dodging their sticks to score the Blazers' first goal, which brought the score to 8-1. Although the team was forced to stay on defense for the majority of the first half, Branson and co-captain Vanessa Hoy spearheaded aggressive offensive attacks with speed and determination. Hoy scored one goal and Branson scored two in the first half alone, but Blair remained behind 10-3 at the end of half.
The second half continued in much of a similar pattern, as the Patriots scored three quick goals within mere minutes. Each team fought hard to maintain possession, with a lot of back-and-forth, offensively oriented play that resulted in fierce battles for the ball at midfield. The Blazers kicked it into gear midway through the second half, with Hoy leading an onslaught through the Patriot defenders and throwing a precision shot into the side of the goal, bringing the score to 14-4.
In the last few minutes of the game, the Blazers gained huge momentum. Junior Emily Hedrick scored a close goal over her shoulder after an assist by Branson and Hoy capitalized on an opening in the Patriots' defensive line just seconds later to win the last goal of the game and close the game with a 15-6 loss. "Once we settled in a bit, we realized that we can play with [the Patriots]," Horne remarked.
But Horne noted and the captains agreed that the Blazer defense, especially midway through the game, left much to be desired. "We kind of got flatfooted," Horne said. Luker agreed, noting that the Blazers "didn't play a full 50 minute game."
Horne said that the team will be working on their transitioning and defensive skills during practice next week, but remains optimistic about the season. "We knew we had a very tough matchup, probably the hardest matchup we could have had," he said. "But we're not going to let this get to us." Luker mentioned that the Blazers also realized the need for perseverance in order to ensure success. "We learned to stay focused," she said. "We're going to have to fight if we want to win."
The Blazers' next home game is Thursday, March 26 against Springbrook at 5:00 p.m.
Deepa Chellappa. The high point of Deepa's life thus far occurred when she waved to Mickey Mouse at a Disney World parade and he blew her a kiss in return. Needless to say, she hates Minnie with a passion. In her free time, Deepa can be found ... More »