Weekly Feature

2018-04-11 / Sports

Second-half surge propels girls lax past Grand Island

Leading by just two goals at the half of its season opener with Grand Island on March 26 wasn’t good enough for Clarence’s girls lacrosse team, which led to the Lady Red Devils flexing their muscles to the tune of nine second-half goals to easily put away the Lady Vikings, 15-5.

Eighth grade attacker Madison Leeper, whom coach Jocelyn Canaday called “very quick with the kind of great game sense that allows her to be a playmaker for both herself and her teammates,” outscored Grand Island by herself, finishing the game with six goals, two assists, two ground balls and an interception. Returning sophomore midfielder Anevay Rice, whom Canaday said “will be taking on a big starting role this season by helping through the midfield and down on defense,” was the only other Lady Red Devil with multiple goals; Rice finished with two tallies to go along with two ground balls.

Senior attacker and co-captain Emma Dickinson (3 assists, 3 ground balls), sophomore midfielder Claire Kiener (2 assists, 2 ground balls) and junior Second Team Class A all-star midfielder Emma Faso (1 assist, 4 ground balls) each added one goal, while senior attacker Jamie King, a returning captain and the Class A Sportsmanship Award winner in 2017, dished out three assists and scooped up three ground balls for the victors.

Junior netminder Olivia Bakowski, another of the team’s co-captains and a returning Second Team Class A all-star, turned aside 11 of the shots she faced to secure the win.

“Emma Faso, who will be running the midfield and helping on the draw for us this year, is a tough but quick player, which probably helped her be our leading scorer last season,” Canaday said. “And Olivia is just solid between the pipes. She’s aggressive when it comes to protecting her crease and clearing the ball. Claire, who’s smooth through our midfield, should help us out by taking the majority of our draws.”

Things didn’t go nearly as well two days later against West Seneca West, however, as the Lady Indians’ effort in the first half led to a 7-2 advantage that ultimately proved too large for Clarence to overcome in what ended up as a 12-6 game. The Lady Red Devils played a much more even game in the second half, getting outscored by just a single goal, but in the end just couldn’t get over the hump to truly cut into West’s early lead.

King paced Clarence with three goals and an assist, while Leeper chipped in with two goals and an assist. Junior defender Grace King had two ground balls, four takeaways and an interception for the Lady Red Devils, while Rice contributed seven ground balls and a takeaway. Freshman defenseman/midfielder Brooke Tangelder added two ground balls and a takeaway, while junior defenseman/ midfielder Julia Messino had a ground ball, interception and takeaway.

Bakowski turned aside 18 of the shots she faced between the pipes for Clarence.

“Grace is going to be the head of our defense this year, stepping into big shoes left by Haley Vaarwerk from last year, and so far she’s doing a great job leading the defense,” Canaday said. “She’s aggressive on ground balls, she’s smart, and I’m looking for her to lead us in interceptions. And Brooke sees the field really well, is very smart and can be quick in the midfield when we need her to be, and is aggressive sliding through the ‘eight.’”

Though the Lady Red Devils would prefer to be 2-0 at this point, no one is arguing that the team – which went 8-10 overall and lost five starters to graduation who are all now playing collegiately – is off to a solid start. Aside from those who’ve already made their presence felt through the first two games, other returning players looking to have an impact on the squad’s fortunes this spring include senior co-captain Gabby Eberle on defense, senior Emma Dickinson on attack, and junior midfielder Erin Faso. Dickinson missed her junior season due to injury, while Eberle, whom Canaday called “an aggressive playmaker,” is transitioning to defense from midfield last season.

Junior team newcomer Chloe Esch, meanwhile, should help in the midfield with her speed and aggressive tracking of ground balls.

“In general this year, we’re looking to move the ball quickly up the field to create scoring opportunities before allowing teams to get to settled on defense, and part of that will hopefully come from our aggressiveness and our ability to swarm to ground balls,” Canaday said. “We really want to push the pace of our transition and use our quickness to our advantage, and I wouldn’t be surprised to also see many of our girls step up as playmakers.”

Clarence, which aims to finish over .500 this year, is scheduled to return to action this afternoon by traveling to Section V to face Rochester’s Our Lady of Mercy before closing out its week at Williamsville South on Friday. The Lady Red Devils will then begin a stretch of three games in four days by traveling to Williamsville East Monday before hosting Niagara Falls Tuesday.

“Even with the turf, the weather has not cooperated for us to be out there for the past four weeks on a regular basis, which is tough in that we have many young players coming in with great game sense who are in reality fighting for potential starting spots,” Canaday said. “In the end, it’s going to help us with our depth whether those younger players start or not, and that will just help us as we take the bigger-picture approach of team success. In order to achieve that success, though, and even taking into account that depth, we’re going to need to stay healthy.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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