Glenelg (19-0) knew it was ready for a rematch against Oakdale (15-3) Friday at Mt. Hebron High School, but never predicted the dominating performance that ensued.
The Gladiators, who defeated the Bears last season to claim their first state title in eight years, won 25-of-29 draw controls, including 12 straight to start the game, which propelled a commanding 24-2 victory in the 3A/2A state semifinal.
“No, that is not what we anticipated today at all,” said Glenelg assistant coach Alex Pagnotta. “We have the ability to dominate when we’re winning draws. When draws are going 50-50 against these good teams, that is what brings these games close and the middies, all six of them out there, were really going after it hard.”
Courtney Renehan won the opening draw for the Gladiators, but Oakdale held its ground on their first offensive set and forced a turnover.
However, Glenelg didn’t allow the Bears to cross midfield before earning the ball back, leading to a goal by Georgia Esmond with 22 minutes, 23 seconds on the clock to go up, 1-0. The Gladiators rolled from there.
After winning the ensuing draw, Anna Callahan received the ball in transition and scored her first of five goals to boost Glenelg’s lead to two.
Renehan won another on the circle, resulting to an Alayna Pagnotta free position goal and 40 seconds later Callahan capitalized again to quickly push the advantage to 4-0.
“Coming into this game we knew they’d be on our back, we have a target on our back but we came in the same way as last year,” Renehan said. “We come into every game the same way ready to play, high intensity and I think that is what we did. We didn’t expect a win or anything we just come in the same way.”
After a save by Oakdale’s Danielle Holt (four saves), the Gladiators forced another turnover near midfield. Lindsay Letellier then assisted Renehan on her third score to extend the cushion.
Following a Jenny Giampalmo win off the draw, Callahan made it 6-0 after netting a free position opportunity with about 17 minutes left in the half.
The Bears scored their first goal with 14:56 remaining before the break, taking advantage of a Gladiators turnover. Alyssa Wright was the beneficiary, as she worked inside Glenelg’s defense to put away her team’s first of the game.
However, the Gladiators responded with nine-straight goals to end the half. Letellier assisted Esmond with 11 minutes remaining before the break to create a 10-goal cushion, resulting in a running clock.
Giampalmo won the opening draw of the second half and Esmond scored about a minute later.
Renehan added on with 22 minutes left, after dodging past her defender for the score. She ultimately finished with five goals on the day, tying Callahan for a team-high.
“Our offense is based on formations and then basic lacrosse rules,” Pagnotta explained. “I put them in a formation and I let their lax I.Q’s take over from there. When we have a lot of unique sets it really stretches out the defense and when you have a good first step, like a lot of our girls do, it creates a lot of options.”
Callahan, Pagnotta, Lindsay Letellier, Emma Letellier and Sarah Cipolla netted consecutive scores before Gabi Griffith broke the run for the Bears.
Kendall Dillard assisted Cipolla on her second goal with a few minutes left to solidify the 24-2 score.
Maddie McSally finished with two saves, while Kylie Haynie came in and made four stops for Glenelg.
The Gladiators are a win away from a perfect season and their second straight state championship. They will play C. Milton Wright, which they defeated in last year’s state semifinal, on either Tuesday or Wednesday at Stevenson University.
It’s so awesome,” Pagnotta said. “When you bank on one goal for the season there is a lot of pressure. We didn’t talk about it all season long but we stated it in the beginning and then we just went at it one game at a time… We know we got to bring it one more time and see where we can end up.”
Glenelg 24, Oakdale 2
G (19-0), O (15-3)
Goals: G — Renehan 5, Callahan 5, Pagnotta 4, Scheinberg 3, Esmond 2, Cipolla 2, O’Brien 1, E. Letellier 1, L. Letellier 1; O — Wright 1, Griffith 1.
Assists: G — L. Letellier 4, Esmond 3, Callahan 2, Pagnotta 1, Dillard 1; O — Schwiegerath 1.
Saves: G — McSally 2, Haynie 4; O — Holt 4.
Halftime: 16-1, Glenelg.