Winters Mill posted a sub-.500 record in girls lacrosse last season, and second-year coach Amalie Meszaros said the Falcons should be able to improve this spring if they focus on fundamentals.

Some of that hinges on what Meszaros calls “hustle plays” — maybe not a goal or an assist, but perhaps a caused turnover or groundball that leads to a change in possession for her team.

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Kaitlyn Thompson did a little bit of everything for her coach in Wednesday’s game against Gerstell — Winters Mill’s junior midfielder led the Falcons to a 13-11 victory in their season opener.

Thompson collected four goals, two draw controls, six groundballs, and four caused turnovers. Freshman Katelyn Heffner added three goals for Winters Mill, which scored twice midway through the second half to grab a two-goal lead and held Gerstell scoreless the rest of the way to preserve the win.

“I try to give 100 percent all the time,” Thompson said. “And I do look for the check a lot. We need those.”

Her coach agreed.

“Not that it doesn’t take skill, but those are heart and hustle plays,” Meszaros said. “We’ll definitely rely on her for that in the midfield.”

Thompson chased down Gerstell’s Jillian Wilson, who totaled 13 draws, a few times and finished with a stick check that knocked the ball loose and set Winters Mill’s offense going in the other direction. Her fourth goal of the game came with 20:24 remaining, but it gave the Falcons a 10-9 lead after Gerstell started the second half with two goals.

Gerstell sophomore attacker Katie Pettine tied the score at 11-11 with 16:02 to go before Winters Mill closed it out — Heffner, one of two freshmen playing major minutes for Meszaros, netted two free-position goals in a two-minute stretch and the Falcons led 13-11.

Goalie Hailey Bennett, who finished with six saves, stoned Gerstell on a free-position shot at the 2-minute mark for a big defensive play.

Not bad for a team that Meszaros said hadn’t been on a full-length field in more than a week because of the weather and conditions.

“You could tell it was our first game; we had a lot of jitters to work out, especially in the first half,” Meszaros said. “We’re practicing either in a gym or on a parking lot. So I’m really proud. We hung in there. We played really tough.”

The game was rescheduled from Tuesday and relocated from Winters Mill to Gerstell so the teams could use the school’s artificial turf. Thompson said it was a challenge to make the transition from a smaller, confined space to the open field for the first time this spring.

Winters Mill's Sarah Rhoads and Gerstell's Jillian Wilson draw.
Winters Mill's Sarah Rhoads and Gerstell's Jillian Wilson draw. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times)

But, when your outdoor surfaces are saturated with melted snow and rain — like “pudding,” Mezsaros said — you take what you can get in terms of real estate.

Gerstell (0-2) committed 16 turnovers, some forced and others not, and Wilson was held scoreless after the first 10 minutes of the game. The home team led 3-1 early on before the Falcons found a little rhythm.

Wilson and freshman midfielder Emily Mesinese each had three goals, and sophomore Haley Gochnauer added two assists.

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The game featured four ties and was close throughout, which made those fundamentals crucial. It was a lack of those things, perhaps, that led to a 6-7 record (1-4 in the county) in 2017, but Thompson said the Falcons are motivated to turn things around this spring.

“I think we’re trying to keep each other up and ready to go,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to have a really good season.”

Goals: WM-Kaitlyn Thompson 4, Katelyn Heffner 3, Madison Harmening 2, Sarah Rhoads 2, Anna Diffendal, Lindsey Collins; G-Jillian Wilson 3, Emily Messinese 3, Katie Pettine 2, Lauren Messinese, Haley Gochnauer, Georgia Blake.

Assists: WM-Megan Thomas, Harmening; G-Gochnauer 2, L. Messinese.

Saves: WM-6 (Hailey Bennett); G-6 (Carly Merlo 2, Leah Warehime 4).

Halftime: WM, 9-7.

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