Hammond junior Jane Ridgell talks after scoring seven goals in the Golden Bears’ 14-11 win over Meade on April 25. (Kyle Stackpole / BSMG)
Hammond girls lacrosse has a "very structured practice schedule," coach Lindsay Kolesar said, that includes certain drills and routines the Golden Bears work on every day.
There's the "SOAP" drill, where the defenders pressure the ball while trying to blanket the adjacent players. On offense, Hammond focuses on smooth transitions and spreading the field. The latter tactic gives whoever is attacking a clearer path to score.
Both strategies worked in unison in the later stages of the Hammond's 14-11 victory at Meade on Wednesday night. Facing a three-goal deficit with less than 10 minutes to play, the Golden Bears banded together to start making defensive stops and tallying consecutive goals. As a result, they notched seven of the game's final eight scores to secure their fifth win and move to .500 on the season.
"We didn't really think to go and settle [possession]," said Jane Ridgell, who flashed her scoring prowess with a team-high seven goals. "We get the draw and we go, we get the draw and we go, like every time without even thinking about it. … Pretty much just do it as fast as we can and work the ball quicker than they could play defense."
Ridgell, who leads Hammond (5-5) with 52 points in 10 games, played a significant role in the comeback along with Aryss Lindsey, the team's top goal getter. Down, 10-7, with 9 minutes, 50 seconds remaining, the Golden Bears inched closer on a free position goal from Lindsey. About 40 seconds later, Ridgell scored. She netted the equalizer 40 seconds after that.
The squads traded the next two goals, with Lindsey scoring for Hammond and senior midfielder Erin Heritage scoring her ninth goal of the game for Meade. According to Mustangs coach David Mason, Heritage has now scored 64 goals and amassed 72 points this season.
Her offensive production allowed the Mustangs to stay competitive with Hammond, which was not the case when the programs met in the Gay Petrlik Memorial Tournament on April 6. In that game, the Golden Bears ran away with a 22-13 victory.
But on Wednesday, the Mustangs looked ready for a rematch from the start. They opened the scoring less than a minute after the first face off and trailed for all of 80 seconds in the first half. At intermission, they held a 6-4 advantage. Four of those goals came courtesy of Heritage.
"She's quick, she is a very talented player, but she sees the field very well," Mason said. "She also plays their top midfielder on defense, she clears the ball, she runs the offense. She's double and triple-teamed every game, and she still has 64 goals."
Heritage scored all five Meade goes after intermission, but even that was not enough for the Mustangs to hold off a surging Hammond squad during the game's final minutes. After Heritage netted her final score — tying the game at 11 with 4:15 to play — the Golden Bears took the lead on a fastbreak goal from Caitlin Pettengil. A minute later, Rachel Hall converted her free-position opportunity.
Those sequences set the stage for Lindsey, who put the finishing touches on the win with a flashy goal in the waning moments.
"This definitely builds up our confidence to know that we can win back a game that we think we were already defeated," Ridgell said. "I know when we were down in this game, we were low, thinking we were not going to win. But we definitely picked it up and got together as a team."
Ridgell said the news, while tragic, showed "how much of a family Hammond is." The school came together Wednesday and comforted one another, she added, regardless of what their relationship was with Riley.
The Golden Bears then replicated those actions before, during and after their gutsy victory on Wednesday night.