Girls lacrosse ends season in state semifinal

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photo by Mia Campese

Attacker Ella Digore dodges her defender and makes an assist to attacker Ellie Wilkins for the first goal of the game. The girls’ varsity lacrosse team won against Creekview 9-7.

The April 29 regional final between varsity girls lacrosse and Vero Beach had been close the entire game. With a minute left, Hagerty was up by two when Vero got the ball off the draw, sprinted the field and tried to set up their offense as quickly as possible, but the defense held strong and caused a turnover. Defender Madison Rogers ran the length of the field to get it back to the offensive side to seal the regional championship.

“Everything on our minds outside of that game was gone—that is all we were focused on,” midfielder Stacy Glover said. “The parents started to count down the last 10 seconds of the game and that’s when I knew that we did it.”

The girls won that game, 13-11, a game that was originally scheduled for the day before but was moved due to rain delays. The game was also moved to a different field because the Vero Beach High field was deemed unsafe.

Because of the delays, the team had to drive to Vero Beach twice in the span of 24 hours. Nevertheless, the team still pulled through with the win, making up for the loss in the last year’s regional final as well as a loss to Vero Beach to begin the season.

It was an all-around team effort with five people scoring the 13 goals, including Glover with four goals and attacker Ellie Wilkins with three.

“After losing to Vero earlier in the season the team was motivated to come back and show them who we really are,” midfielder Melina Lange said. “Being able to experience going to the Final Four because of that win was amazing.”

After winning the regional championship the team advanced to the final four for the first time since 2019. Their opponent for the state semifinal was Saint Thomas Aquinas on May 5 at the Paradise Sports Complex in Naples. 

The game started off slow for the offense because they were not running the plays they practiced for the game properly, and Saint Thomas’s defense shut down the dodges and caused multiple turnovers.

“We needed to value possession of the ball and work on our shot placement, we rushed into a lot of our plays causing them to not work,” Glover said.

The defensive side also struggled with a lack of communication in the first half due to new plays that Saint Thomas was running. Wilkins and Glover scored the only two goals for Hagerty, and they trailed 5-2 at the half.

During the second half, the team switched up the offensive play and the defensive set they were running to try and make a comeback.

Attacker Madison O’Connor was subbed in during the second half of the game and scored two goals, the first on a feed from her sister, attacker Catherine O’Connor. Glover and Wilkins each scored another goal, contributing to the comeback.

“We definitely had the chance to win in the second half,” Glover said. “We were finally able to get to the goal, and the defensive side was able to hold the eight and not let them get as many chances,” Glover said.

The girls won the second half 6-5, but lost the game 10-8, sending Saint Thomas to the state championship.

Even though the season might not have ended how they would have liked, it was still one of the best seasons the team has ever had.

“I am so proud of this entire team,” Lange said. “Overcoming all of the adversity in the regional finals and finally being able to beat Vero. That was our biggest goal this season.”

The first three games of the season were losses on the road to top-ranked teams in the state: Vero Beach, Bartram Trail and Ponte Vedra. To compete at the state level, the team realized they needed to make some changes.

“We turned it around quickly after those games,” Lange said. “We worked on our offense and improved so much.”

On March 3, the first big win of the season for the team was against IMG. In three previous years, the team lost either by one or two points each time, but this year the team’s offense took control of the game as soon as it started. The final score of the game was 16-4 and the players described this win as a shock to the entire team.

The team then went on to face Lake Mary for the SAC championship. The girls lost the championship last year to Lake Mary so they were motivated to make a statement. The final score was 13-12 with Wilkins scoring in the last 30 seconds of the game to put the team in the lead.

“Making the winning goal against them felt so satisfying,” Wilkins said. “ It was like I could finally breathe after holding my breath for 25 minutes.” 

Lake Highland was the top Orlando team for five straight years until the team beat them on April 5. It was a back-and-forth game, but the team’s defense held off Highland’s offense in the last minute to secure the win 9-8.

The team won the SAC, district and regional championships and has hopes to add the state championship to that list next year.

“We should have been able to do it this year, but I am glad that I got as far as I did with these girls,” Lange said. “Next year is the year.”

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