After giving up back-to-back scores midway through the first half on Thursday, the Bayard Rustin girls’ lacrosse team quickly found itself down by two goals and was in desperate need of a spark.
Enter Carolyn Adams.
Just moments out of a called timeout, Adams notched a crafty goal in transition to prevent a sizable deficit and ignite a scoring frenzy that recalled images of the 2008 Rustin squad that reached the district championship.
Thanks in part to Adams’ goal, seventh-seeded Rustin tallied 11 of the next 13 overall scores en route to a 19-11 victory over visiting Downingtown West in the second round of the District 1 playoffs. The Golden Knights’ balance proved to be too much for the tenth-seeded Whippets as seven different players notched at least two points.
With an experienced Rustin (17-2 overall) team peaking at the right time, a trip back to the district title game certainly isn’t out of the question. Next up for the Knights will be No. 2 seed North Penn (19-0) – a 14-9 winner over Villa Maria Academy – at West Chester East Saturday at a time to be determined.
“Our mindset this year is to get back to the championship game and win it,” said Adams, a senior, who finished with a team-high five goals. “We played with such great teamwork and were really determined to come out on top. It was a good win.”
If Adams and the Golden Knights can continue to come up with balanced scoring, smart decision-marking and aggressive defense like in Thursday’s playoff affair, they will be one tough team to stop.
Following Adams’ goal at 9:48 to get the score to 6-5, the Knights tallied five of the next six overall goals to take a 10-7 lead into intermission. Adams scored three of her five scores in the half while Leana Brewer and Abbie Brewer combined to net four goals.
However, early in the first half, Downingtown West’s Morgan Obendorfer had been torching the Rustin defense with aggressive drives and blazing shots that often made it past goalie Kelsey Sward. Obendorfer notched four of her team’s first six goals, but midway through the stanza, the Knights called timeout and changed their defensive game plan, a decision that paid immediate dividends.
“We were playing conservatively on the defensive end early in the game and West was able to set up their attack and had players getting through,” Rustin head coach Laura Capuano said. “We made our adjustments and started pressing up high so they weren’t able to set up their attack. They started forcing and taking tough shots and we just capitalized on that.”
The late surge by the Knights also fueled an early scoring barrage right after halftime. Behind a slew of draw control victories from Adams, Rustin tallied the first three goals of the second half in less than two minutes. Leana Brewer scored just 17 seconds in before Adams and Abbie Brewer followed up with scores just 13 seconds apart before the 23-minute mark to give Rustin a commanding 13-7 lead.
After Steph Pirri notched her first goal of the game for Downingtown West with 17:15 to play, Rustin fired right back with two more scores to go up 15-8. Since allowing Obendorfer’s fourth goal of the game at 12:58 of the first half, Rustin had embarked on an 11-2 run to take seize total control.
“If we played our game, it would have been different,” Downingtown head coach Kelee O’Malley said. “We were throwing it to the other team and we weren’t picking up the ball. The first half was better than the second, but that just wasn’t Downingtown lacrosse.”
Perhaps a major factor was Rustin goalie Kelsey Sward, who made nine overall saves, including seven in the first half. Sward was at the top of her game and produced some point-blank stops that kept Downingtown West from inching closer.
Meanwhile, Abbie Brewer finished with four goals while Leana Brewer and Julie Tatios each tallied hat tricks. Obendorfer ended up with a game-high six scores for Downingtown West.
“It nice to have a deep group of players that can step up like that,” Capuano said. “They look for each other and they support each other. If everyone is on fire, we are unstoppable. We don’t favor anyone on this team, and it shows.”
Bayard Rustin 19, Downingtown West 11
Downingtown West 7 4 – 11
West Chester Rustin 10 9 – 19
Downingtown West goals: Obendorfer 6, Tabor 2, Warren, Smith, Pirri.
West Chester Rustin goals: Adams 5, A. Brewer 4, L. Brewer 3, Tatios 3, Novielli 2, Walsh 2.
Goalie saves: Murdaugh (DW) 4, Washington (2); Sward (R) 9.