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Glenelg field hockey beats Long Reach for regional title

On paper, Wednesday's Class 2A East regional final should have been a blowout, but underdog Long Reach wouldn't allow that.

The Lightning's Colleen Dudley scored in the first minute of game, a move that caught Glenelg — which recently beat Long Reach, 7-1 — by surprise.

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"The message was: we weren't here just to lay back and lose," said Long Reach goalie Alina Milauskas.

The game was a rematch of last year's regional final.

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"We were here last year and didn't do so good. All the girls wanted to come back this year and play to win the game," Milauskas said.

The quick goal was part of the Long Reach go-as-hard-as-you-can game plan.

"That goal kicked us back into gear. It was a nice play by them and it definitely got us going on the right track, " said Glenelg's Molly Milani, whose team eventually won, 4-1.

"We came back and showed them what we've got," said Glenelg senior forward Mia Astran, who scored twice against Long Reach.

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Grace Olson and Gabi Rachuba rounded out the Gladiators' scoring.

The victory advances Glenelg (14-2-1) to next Monday's Class 2A state semifinal game at Paint Branch High School. The Gladiators will play Hereford, an 8-0 winner over Rising Sun, at either 5 or 7 p.m.

Once Glenelg realized the seriousness of the game, the Gladiators intensified their effort and controlled most of the play.

Glenelg had a 20-0 advantage in offensive penalty corners and defensively the Gladiators' keeper never touched the ball.

At the opposite end of the field, Milauskas had her hands full. The senior first-year goalie made 24 saves.

"Our goalie is fantastic," said Long Reach senior Lillie Miller.

Milauskas made stops on some shots that Glenelg was sure were going to go in.

"I wanted to do the best I could for the team because of all the support they have given me through the season," Milauskas said.

While Glenelg advances to its seventh consecutive state final four, Long Reach — the regional runner-up for the second straight year — found something to take from the game.

"Really, it is a good way for us to go out," Bhanot said. "We had something positive and we have something to look forward to next year."

Long Reach finished its season 6-11.

Glenelg 4, Long Reach 1

Goals: G — Mia Astran 2, Grace Olson, Gabi Rachuba. LR — Colleen Dudley.

Assists: G — Leanne Duncan 2, Hannah Doughty.

Saves: G — Noelle Frost 0. LR — Alina Milauskas 24.

Halftime: Glenelg, 2-0.

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