When the girls lacrosse season began, Chapelgate was unsure of just how it would fare this season. The Yellowjackets lost five starters, including three of their top scorers, from a team that went 17-0 and won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference championship.

Chapelgate worked its way back into the championship game this year, but the Yellowjackets lost to conference newcomer Indian Creek, 9-6, in a game played at the Gerstell Academy on Saturday.

The championship was the first for any girls program at Indian Creek, which is in its sixth year.

The two teams played twice earlier in the season with Indian Creek winning each time, but this was the closest game. The score was 3-2 at the half.

 “In the second half, we lost our momentum a little bit and that kind of killed us because that’s when they got most of their goals,” said Chapelgate senior Jen Yahiro.

Indian Creek freshman Abigail O’Neal scored three of her team-high four goals after the intermission. She was also instrumental in the Eagles winning many of the draw controls.

O’Neal, who strained her back two days ago, almost didn’t play in the second half of the game. During halftime, she stretched her back and put a heating pad on her back.

Although in pain, the decision to return to the field was an easy one.

“I knew my team need me and we needed each other and I just really wanted to play. I could not play,” she said.

Indian Creek goalkeeper Delaney Kerns (12 saves) made it difficult for Chapelgate.

“That’s the best game I’ve ever played,” she said.

Her teammates concurred.

“In the first half, we would have been totally losing without her. This game would have been filed away,” said O’Neal. “It doesn’t matter how many goals any of us scored, Delaney won the game for us.”

Kerns also earned the praise of her coach, Steve Willet.

“She played out of her mind. She had the best game she’s ever had in goal. This was by far her best game and you can’t win a championship without a hot goalie.”

Shooting wasn’t Chapelgate’s forte on Saturday.

Kerns had eight saves in the first half.

“I was done with us not scoring, I told Emma (Rufolo) that anytime she had the ball to go to goal.”

Rufolo responded with five of her team’s six goals.

Losing this late in the season is a disappointment.

“We could have done better,” Rufolo said.

In hindsight, Chapelgate has come a long way though.

“We were 0-13 four years ago,” Chapelgate coach Colleen Norton said. “Who would have thought we’d reach the championship two years in a row?

“I’m very pleased with how far we got. We made the championship game and we’re No. 2 out of 10 teams” in the conference.

The Yellowjackets ended their season with a 12-5 record.

Indian Creek 9, Chapelgate 6 (IAAM C Conference championship)

Goals: IC – Abigail O’Neal 4, Margot White 2, Ali King, Ashley Leverett, Corrien Woodson. CCA – Emma Rufolo 4, Jen Yahiro.

Assists: IC – Brennan Davis. CCA – Jen Yahiro.

Saves: IC – Delaney Kerns 12. CCA – Emily Roberts 5, Kaitlyn Wetzel 2.

Halftime: Indian Creek, 3-2.