Centennial girls lacrosse rolls past Atholton, 14-3
By Kyle McFadden
Marissa Lagera received the transition feed at the 40-yard line and ripped through the slot with no remorse, skirting by her defender and bum-rushing for the doorstep-goal to keep Centennial’s dominance churning against visiting Atholton Tuesday.
The sophomore attacker found the back of the net with ease, encapsulating the kind of day it turned out to be for the Eagles, as they rolled over the Raiders in the 14-3 win, outshooting the opposition 24-6 and winning all but four draw controls (15-4).
Lagera finished with five points, piling on four goals and an assist to spearhead an overwhelming offensive blitz.
“Whenever we play that speed, that’s top notch,” Lagera said. “If we want to beat these high-level teams then we need to play that top-notch lacrosse at that high speed.”
Centennial (6-2 county, 7-4 overall) was never under fire Tuesday evening, winning the first four draw controls and tacking on two quick goals before Atholton (3-4, 3-8) could even advance the ball into their offensive territory.
Freshman Rasa Welsh netted the opening two goals for the Eagles, finishing up close two minutes into regulation and then scoring in transition three minutes later.
“We like to push [the pace], use our speed,” Welsh said. “We’ve gotten used to it. We practice transitions in practice all the time, and it’s gotten so much better since day one. … Getting the ball off the draw is one of our main things to get in transition. All of our midfielders do a great job of that.”
Claudia Pilcher catalyzed the scoring barrage from the circle, winning nearly 80 percent (15 of 19) of her draw controls, a notion that’s played into the hands of Centennial for the majority of the season.
“We’ve sort of figured out a formula that’s worked for us,” Eagles coach Bethany Cunha said. “The girls are starting to grow and take ownership of their roles on the team. I think that’s made a huge difference. … We’re building really good momentum with the postseason coming up.”
The Raiders’ Kelley Flynn (two goals), who recently came back from a concussion suffered during basketball season, provided a sliver of hope when she buried a free position goal at the 16-minute mark to get Atholton to within one. But that was the closest the Raiders got.
Less than two minutes later, Lagera provided the sequence that sparked a 5-0 run to put the game out of reach at 7-1 minutes before halftime.
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A photo gallery lookof where all 14 Howard County schools stand in their county or respective conference standings through Monday, April 24. (County standings are determined by win percentage). (Staff photo by Jen Rynda)
Pilcher scored twice during the stretch, and Madison Griffin and Lagera each added a goal to give Centennial a 7-2 advantage at halftime.
The Eagles extended their lead to 9-2 in the opening minutes of the second half off goals from Pilcher and Lauren Bracey (one goal, one assist).
Julia Grable and Katie Pistner (one goal, one assist) added a goal apiece for Centennial in the second half.
Even though Atholton struggled to gain any sort of traction against the Eagles, it had a healthy unit from top to bottom for the second game in a row.
Flynn made her third start of the year Tuesday, while Rachel Foster made her season debut in the Raiders’ previous game against Wilde Lake. Both were all-county selections in 2016.
“It’s late in the season, but we finally got everyone healthy and back on the field, the leadership we’ve been missing,” Raiders coach Kelly Keefe said. “They’re finally back for the last three or four games. We’re getting stronger on defense. But we still have a lot of work to do, and a lot of stuff offensively we have to work on.”
Hannah Bizokas recorded 10 saves for Atholton, and Paige Gryski added one goal.
For the Eagles, Cunha said the team leaned too heavily on a handful of individuals at the beginning of the season, but now seemingly everyone is buying into their collective roles and jelling at the right time.
“We were kind of counting on seven solid players to get the job done, and now we’re a team that’s starting to trust each other,” Cunha said. “Starting to effectively transfer the ball down the field. Starting to find the net, starting to see each other on their cuts. From what I’ve seen, we’ve only grown and improved. But I don’t think we’ve played our best lacrosse yet. I think that’s yet to come.”