It was a tale of two halves for the C. Milton Wright girls lacrosse team Monday night and the result was a 15-9 loss to Westminster in the Class 3A state championship game played at Paint Branch High School.
The title was a second straight for the Owls, who had beaten the Mustangs, 16-15, in a regular season meeting in April.
CMW (13-4) fell behind 6-0 over the first 11 minutes of play and the deficit was too much to overcome for the Mustangs, who just couldn’t find any success or rhythm on offense for the majority of the first half.
“I think it was two very different teams that showed up from the first half to the second half, we dug ourselves into the hole in that first half that we couldn’t come back from,” Mustangs head coach Faye Brust said. “If you look at the comeback in the second half, the scores, if you take the first half, 11-2, second half, 15-9, we came out winning that second half, so if we would have just played like that the whole game, it could have been a different outcome.”
Westminster senior Hannah Dintino was a big reason the Owls (14-6) dominated play in the first half. She burned the CMW defense for four goals in just the first 8:30 played and scored five of her six goals in the first half.
Lauren Saltz and Katie Pettine added a goal each to complete the 6-0 run.
The Mustangs just struggled over that first 25 minutes. They turned the ball over twice, Aubrey Hoover was called for a charging foul and the Mustangs didn’t have a shot, all in the first five minutes of play.
“I think we just came out very slow, what I thought I noticed was, we weren’t mentally checked in,” Brust said. “We weren’t ready to be there.”
After four failed attempts, the Mustangs finally found the goal with 11:29 to play. Madison Remeto took a feed from Haley Cummins and one-timed it past Owls keeper Sara Tyssowski.
That goal was answered by a four-goal spurt by the Owls, part of a 5-1 run to close the half.
Chloe Sedlar and Anna Ruby had two goals each and Dintino had one.
Kirsten Schleicher scored the Mustangs goal, with Cummins adding another assist.
“We definitely came out slow, it didn’t feel like we wanted it, but I feel like in the second half we definitely got mentally checked in and we fought hard to the very end, until the final whistle,” senior Taylor Marchetti said.
Dintino’s final goal opened the second half scoring just over a minute in, which briefly created the running clock with the 10-goal (12-2) differential.
Marchetti scored the first of her two goals a short time later, but it was seven minutes later before Remeto scored her second on a nice individual effort.
The teams then traded goals, a minute apart. Saltz by free position shot (FPS) for the Owls and Hoover unassisted for the Mustangs.
Ruby’s third goal with under 10 minutes left made 14-5, but the Mustangs had one last charge.
Marchetti from Cummins and then Cummins on an FPS cut the Owls lead to seven, 14-7, with 7:48 to play.
The Mustangs, who had a 17-9 draw control advantage (10-2 in second half) followed with three good shots, but Owls keeper Tyssowski (13 saves) turned away all three.
The third turned into a fast break for Sedlar, who scored the Owls final goal with 6:18 to play. The goal also halted the momentum of the Mustangs.
The Mustangs added two more goals in the final minutes. Kaitlyn Bajkowski scored a FPS goal with 4:53 to play and Cummins (three assists) added the final goal with :22 left.
CMW freshman goalie Caleigh Kohr, who was forced into duty when the playoffs started, made five saves. Starter Sawyer Graham, a sophomore, suffered a broken finger in practice the day before the first playoff game.
“I’m super proud of the girls, this is a tough loss because that’s not the team that I know that we are,” Brust said. “It’s kind of frustrating in this game, because I know we could have played better.”