AVON LAKE — As minutes gradually ticked off the game clock at Avon Lake’s Memorial Stadium last Friday night, the Hawken girls lacrosse team continued to dig in.
The Hawks won draws. They emerged from scrums with secured ground balls. They caused turnovers in their defensive zone and managed to control possession afterward.
And when they got in front of Avon Lake’s net, shooters didn’t miss often. The Hawks took 39 shots to Avon Lake’s 13, and put together a 20-6 win.
The Shoregals (4-9) received two-goal games from juniors Kylee Collins and Avri Duff, but early-half sure-handedness with the ball gave way to miscues and an at-times blistering Hawks (9-5) attack.
“We just continue to make mistakes,” Shoregals coach Darci Gervaise said. “Our team is young…The inexperience, they get antsy and nervous. They have the ball and think ‘I’ve got to pass it to this person, but oh wait, there’s a defender,’ and then we throw it away. It’s just silly mistakes, and a lot of it we can clean up.”
This year’s Shoregals team only features two seniors. One of them, starting goalie Rachel Matt, has been out of action after suffering a concussion earlier in the schedule. Junior Abigail Schillinger, one of the most gifted offensive players in the program, has been out with a sprained ankle.
Against a skilled Hawken team Friday, the Shoregals started six juniors and four sophomores including goalie Nicole Butch, who made seven saves. The result of so much varsity inexperience was evident, as they took a 3-1 lead on an Abby Baird goal with 18:38 to go in the first half and then surrendered six unanswered Hawks goals over the next five minutes, including three from three different players inside of one minute that put the Hawks ahead for good.
Hawken went into the half with a 13-5 lead.
“We have moments where we do some things really great, then we mess up in other areas that we didn’t in the previous game,” Gervaise said. “We just haven’t been able to pull it all together all at once.”
The Shoregals started the second half much like the first, controlling possession for the opening five minutes and cutting the deficit to 13-6 on Collins’ second goal of the night with 20:04 remaining. Then inconsistency reared its ugly head and the Hawks took over the game again, scoring seven unanswered goals over the game’s final 15 minutes.
The key to Hawken’s success all season has been its talented contingent of midfielders. They didn’t disappoint Friday, accounting for 13 of the team’s total scores, led by six from sophomore Heather Arslanian, four from junior Julia Newman and three from senior co-captain Sydney Kates. Senior attacker Ariel Cohen finished with five goals and three assists.
Hawken won the faceoff battle by a decisive 19-6 count thanks in large part to Arslanian and Kates, and won the turnover battle 21-12.
“Losing the draw (was the biggest factor in the loss),” Gervaise said. “We’ve struggled with the draw for multiple years now. After we graduated everybody last year, the draw has continued to be an issue for us. We get the ball back fairly often, but the team’s young. We’re going to have to continue to work on it.”
Senior co-captain Sadie Jacobson made two saves in net for the Hawks, who have designs on competing with the best Division II programs in the region once tournament time starts. The win Friday was their fourth in their last five games.
“I think we’ve got a skilled team that can pass, can move, and I think our midfield in particular is talented and fast,” Hawks coach Jim Newman said. “We just needed to execute the plays that we have (against Avon Lake). We spend a lot of time working on some of those details in the plays and that allows us to be efficient with the offense and score…In that way, we were able to get a lot out of the midfield, and some of our attackers were great, also.”
The Shoregals began this week with their senior night on Monday against St. Joseph Academy, and will wrap up their regular season Thursday at 7 p.m. at Green.
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