Nike/US Lacrosse South Girls' Report
by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com
Player of the Week
Emily Velez, Milton (Ga.)
The sophomore attacker made a big impact during Milton's run for a fifth straight title and ninth in the past 10 years. She contributed nine points over the last two games, including three goals and two assists in a 18-5 semifinal win over Centennial (Ga.) and four goals in a 16-13 win over Walton (Ga.) for the championship. Velez stepped up this season to help fill the void left by the graduation of eight starters from last year's team and is one of just four sophomores on the roster.
Also Notable: Sarah Bialecki, Kell (Ga.); Sophia Watkins, Walton (Ga.); Rachael Schmetzer, Sacred Heart (Ky.); Abbey Flynn, Apex (N.C.)
Game of the Week
Apex (N.C.) at Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), May 20
This is an NCHSAA state semifinal matchup between two of the top four power-rated teams in North Carolina, according to LaxPower.com. No. 2 Gibbons (16-2) handed No. 4 Apex (17-1) its only loss, 18-14 on March 14 and also won a first-round playoff matchup 21-11 last year before falling to eventual champion East Chapel Hill (N.C.) in the quarterfinals. The Crusaders' losses this season both came in March against Charlotte Catholic (N.C.), which plays Marvin Ridge (N.C.) in the other semifinal, and NCISAA champion Charlotte Country Day (N.C.).
South Region Top 10
1. Vero Beach (Fla.), 21-3
It was quite a year for the Fighting Indians, who won their ninth consecutive state final. Not only did they finish 17-0 against in-state opponents but they also posted a winning record (4-3) against out-of-state competition, despite playing seven teams that are or have been ranked in the national Top 25. Vero Beach is 147-1 against Florida teams over the last nine years, including 128 consecutive wins, and 51-0 in the playoffs.
2. Milton (Ga.), 19-3
The Eagles captured their ninth state title in the past 10 years by beating Walton 16-13 in the GHSA Class 6A final Saturday. Midway through the second half with the score tied, Milton went on a scoring run of five straight goals to build enough of a lead to put the game away, and Brooke Winsness and Emily Velez both finished with four goals. The Eagles had rolled to an 18-5 win over Centennial in the semifinals.
3. Hutchison (Tenn.), 22-0
The Sting made winning a fourth consecutive state championship look easy, outscoring their opponents 393-111, including 36-9 in the Final Four. Their first perfect season since 2011 featured wins against St. John's (Texas), Lassiter (Ga.) and Lamar (Texas) and six out-of-state wins overall. Four players finished with 50 goals or more – Elizabeth Farnsworth (68 goals, 41 assists), Griffin Gearhardt (67 goals, 64 assists), Loring Gearhardt (6 goals, 41 assists) and Chloe Duke (54 goals, 21 assists).
4. Walton (Ga.), 14-7-1
The Raiders advanced to their first ever state final by beating Lassiter (Ga.) 13-12 in overtime in the state semifinals May 14 – a game in which they avenged a narrow loss during the regular season. Walton came up short against Milton in the final but twice rallied from five-goal deficits to keep the game close. Erin McBride and Sophia Watkins scored five goals apiece against Lassiter and accounted for the team's final two scores. McBride also had five scores in the final.
5. St. John's (Texas), 20-4
The Mavericks had two late-season losses but did not disappoint when it came time to defend their 2013 title. They avenged both of their in-state losses during the Final Four, beating Hockaday (Texas) in the semifinals and Lamar (Texas) in the final, to repeat as the Division I state champions. They finished 4-2 against out-of-state competition with three-goal losses to both Hutchison (Tenn.) and Los Alamitos (Calif.), which won the Southern California title Sunday.
6. Lassiter (Ga.), 17-4
The Trojans fell short of a return trip to the state final, losing in an especially disappointing way in the semifinals against Walton. Lassiter was up 12-11 with 2:26 left in overtime when a lightning suspended play, but gave up two unanswered goals when the game resumed. The Trojans had just one other in-state loss, falling 14-10 to champion Milton in the regular-season finale.
7. Ponte Vedra (Fla.), 19-4
The Sharks finished as state runners up in their first trip to the Final Four, falling to Vero Beach for the second time this season in the final. They didn't lose to any other Florida opponents, as Milton (Ga.) and Walton (Ga.) accounted for their only other losses. Emma Dotsikas finished with a team-high 61 goals, 26 assists, while Abby Walker added 42 goals and 49 assists.
8. Lamar (Texas), 13-4-1
The Redskins finished as the Division I state runners up to St. John's, after beating the Mavericks in the Houston city tournament final two weeks prior. They were 1-2 against St. John's this season, and their two other losses were to St. Anne's-Belfield (Va.) and Hutchison (Tenn.). They tied Walton in the first week of the season. Lamar featured a well-balanced attack from players like Tobey Folk (55 draw controls, 51 goals, 35 ground balls, eight assists,), McKinley Wade (58 assists, 49 goals, 34 draw controls), Hannah Gantt (40 goals, 31 ground balls, 29 draw controls, eight assists,), Lyndsay Lafitte (54 assists, 39 draw controls, 31 goals,) and Macy Mosely (41 goals, 19 assists).
9. Barron Collier (Fla.), 18-6
The Cougars advanced to their first Final Four but ended their season in the semifinals with a six-goal loss to Vero Beach, which matched the Fighting Indians' closest in-state margin of victory this season. Barron Collier's only other in-state losses were to Lake Brantley (Fla.) and runner-up Ponte Vedra (by one), and the Cougars finished 3-4 against out-of-state competition. Junior Olivia Ferrucci led the team with 108 goals, 68 assists, 81 draw controls, 83 ground balls and 75 turnovers for the season.
10. Kell (Ga.), 20-1
Sarah Bialecki scored the go-ahead goal with two minutes left to lift the Longhorns past Westminster (Ga.), 11-10, in the GHSA small-school division championship. It marked their first state title and ended a streak of four straight championships held by their area rival. Leslie Ferguson led Kell with three goals and one assist. Kell, which still accounts for Charlotte Catholic's (N.C.) only loss, ended the season with 10 straight wins, following its only loss to Lassiter (Ga.) on April 11.
News and Notes
The competition in Georgia seems to be improving every year, but Milton still remains on the throne.
The Eagles won their fifth straight title and ninth in 10 years by beating Walton 16-13 in the Class 6A championship game Saturday. They beat Lassiter by three goals in last year's final.
Milton proved the strength of its feeder system this year after reloading to replace seven Division I college players and eight starters overall from the 2013 roster.
"This was a special win for us," Milton coach Tim Godby said. "Nobody outside our program gave our girls a chance this year after graduating seven players to D-I schools and eight starters total. We had nine players start in this game that did not start in any games last year. We played one of the toughest schedules in the country this year and ended up with a record of 19-3. That was a great accomplishment for this team. I'm very happy for the players because they worked hard and stayed focused all year."
Walton tested the Eagles' focus throughout the championship game, tying it at 10-10 with 16 minutes left before Milton scored five straight goals to build a cushion the Raiders couldn't overcome.
The Eagles took their 15-10 lead with 7:37 left and were able to begin running out the clock with three minutes left.
"They have a great group of girls on that team," Godby said of Walton. "This game had momentum swings throughout. We were able to go on a couple of great runs in both the first and second half when the game was tied and put the game out of reach with our run of five in a row in the second half."
Walton (Ga.) put on a show just to get to its first state final, but had a little help from a weather delay that might have worked in its favor in an overtime win against Lassiter in the semifinals.
Lassiter had the lead most of the game, including a one-goal advantage and the momentum when lightning suspended play with 2:26 left in overtime. Once the game resumed, Walton took control, scoring two unanswered goals in the final minutes to take its first lead at 13-12, which held up for the final.
Erin McBride scored an unassisted goal to tie the game with 2:11 left, and a minute later, Sophia Watkins scored the eventual game-winner through traffic. Lassiter called timeout after Walton took the lead, but it never threatened to score, and Walton possessed the ball during the final 25 seconds to seal the victory.
Westminster scored the first two goals in the GHSA 1A-5A state final, but Kell quickly answered and never trailed again. The Longhorns edged the four-time defending champions, 11-10, for their first ever title.
"We knew it was going to be a battle," Kell coach Todd Utt told the Marietta Daily Journal. "They're a seasoned team that's been here before, and it's always tough to beat a team twice in one season.
"The goal (each season) is always a state championship," Utt added. "This season was an amazing ride. We went 20-1 and had the best season in school history."
Kell had beaten the Wildcats 14-9 on April 17.
This time, the Longhorns never led by more than three goals, making it a game fitting for a championship. In addition to Ferguson's three goals and one assist, Talen Francis, Haley Swift and Hannah Nemeck each scored two goals for Kell.
Sophomore Cabell Zakas scored five goals for the Wildcats.
Charlotte Country Day (N.C.) won its second consecutive North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association state title last week, beating Ravenscroft (N.C.) 12-10 in the final.
Sophomore Riley Harrison led Country Day with four goals and was one of several contributing underclassmen who return next season.
"We graduated nine girls last year," Country Day coach Kristy Boyles told the Charlotte Observer. "We had a big team last year so the girls coming up knew the ropes and could jump right in. The sophomore class has done a great job adapting and pushing the team."
The Buccaneers took a 7-4 lead into halftime and scored four of the first five goals in the second half to build a six-goal margin that was too large for the Ravens to overcome.
Apex (N.C.) advanced to the NCHSAA state semifinals with a 14-8 win over Wakefield with the scoring coming from four players -- Abbey Flynn (five goals, one assist), Mia Castagnero (four goals one assist), Meredith Chapman (three goals, one assist) and Erin Cornell (two goals, one assist).
Rachael Schmetzer scored eight goals as defending Kentucky state champion Sacred Heart (Ky.) routed visiting South Oldham (Ky.) 28-0 Saturday in the quarterfinals. Lisa Niblock added five goals and Hannah Hardy three for the Valkyries, who had 13 players score overall. Sacred Heart will play Manual (Ky.) in Tuesday's semifinal at Kentucky Country Day.
2014 South Region Report Archive
- February 25 - Preseason Top 10/Player of the Year Watch List
- March 4
- March 11
- March 18
- March 25
- April 1
- April 8
- April 15
- April 22
- April 29
- May 6
- May 13
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