Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/28/09
Courtesy of Suburbanonesports.com
Dianna Milano remembers it all too well. So do her North Penn lacrosse teammates.
No one on the Maidens’ sidelines, it seems, had forgotten the long bus ride home after last year’s 9-7 loss to Ridley in the regular season finale for both teams.
“We went home on the bus after that game – it was dark, we had school the next day, no one was having fun,” Milano said. “We were just thinking about the game we had lost to close out our season.
“We still went on to playoffs, but it ended the regular season on a sour note.”
The Maidens had a chance to avenge that loss on Friday, and they seized the moment, sprinting to a 7-1 halftime lead on their way to a 10-6 non-league win over the Green Raiders.
“This is huge,” Milano said. “We’re 3-0, and we beat a team we lost to last year, so we have already improved from last year.
“We have a really big game on Monday (against Boyertown), and this win will give us confidence.”
The win was the first ever over Ridley for coach Jami Wilus, who is in her sixth year at the helm. The Green Raiders, who compete in the lacrosse-rich Central League, boasted a 3-0 record against the Maidens, registering wins in each of the last three years.
That fact alone made Friday’s win significant.
“It’s so early in the season it’s hard to tell how a team will end up,” Wilus said. “One thing I know about Ridley is that their program is well-known. They come from the Central League.
“In terms of just setting a standard for our program, this is a huge win for us. Any time you play a team from the Central League – whether you go there or they come to your place, it’s a stepping stone for us to where we want to go at the end of the season. It’s early in the season, there’s a lot of lacrosse to be played, but for this team, right now, it’s a huge win.”
The Maidens set the tone for their big win on the defensive end, keeping the Green Raiders off the scoreboard until just 5:10 remained in the first half.
“We said in the locker room, ‘We start defending when we leave this locker room’ because we knew coming from the Central League, Ridley doesn’t really like to run-and-gun too much,” Wilus said. “We thought it was going to be one of those games that might be close, and they were going to take some time off the clock offensively.
“We needed to tighten up defensively, and we did that, including our midfield and our attackers. Our attackers did an awesome job of re-defending which allowed our defense to settle in.”
During that 20-minute span to open the game, the Maidens not only played suffocating defense but also received a standout performance from goalie Lyndsay Hepler (14 saves).
“Lyndsay came up huge,” Wilus said. “She’s been constantly improving. She worked hard in the off-season, and by her turning those shots away, it gave us more opportunities on the offensive end.”
Ridley had a chance to get on the scoreboard first, but a free position shot in the game’s opening moments bounced wide left of the net. Alyssa Culp gave the Maidens a 1-0 lead when she connected from the eight-meter mark with a well-placed shot into the upper right corner of the net four minutes into the game.
That was followed by a nine-minute scoring drought that included strong play by the respective defenses as well as several big saves by Hepler.
“With Lyndsay stopping things, as a defender, you know you can go for that ground ball and take that chance,” Milano said.
Senior Lauren McDermott, who led the Maidens with four goals and an assist in a stellar outing, broke the scoring drought midway through the half, working her way through the Green Raiders’ defense for a goal that put the Maidens on top 2-0.
“McDermott is the type of player – she’s just a spark out there,” said Wilus. “We moved her from the attack to midfield, and she’s doing a great job of not just scoring for us but doing some other things in transition.
“This is the first time this season I really saw her take over at points of the game.”
A free position goal by McDermott made it a 3-0 game before Shaela Allen found Jenna Massimo for a goal that put the Red Raiders on the scoreboard.
The Maidens got that goal right back when – 50 seconds later – McDermott went the length of the field for the score. Abbie Hartman, who connected for the hat trick, came around the crease for a goal less than 30 seconds later that put the Maidens on top 5-1 with 3:51 remaining in the half.
Armed with a 5-1 lead, the Maidens executed their stall game to perfection, patiently holding the ball until – on cue from Wilus – a wide open junior Danielle Horn sprinted in for a goal with 17 seconds remaining.
Not content to go into halftime with a five-goal lead, the Maidens saved their best for last.
McDermott came up with the ball on the ensuing draw, sprinted downfield and passed to teammate Ali Green.
“Ali Green made the most amazing catch – on her knees,” McDermott said. “Then she got up and went around the crease and somehow passed it back to me.”
With one second left, McDermott found the corner of the net for a goal that sent the Maidens into halftime with a 7-1 lead.
“Once we started scoring, it was like we finally realized ‘Hey, we can play with these guys, and we can beat them,’ ” Wilus said. “Half the battle is just believing you can do it.”
The Maidens went on top 8-1 after Culp scored on an eight-meter shot into the lower corner of the cage two minutes into the second half. A goal by Donkin made it an 8-2 game at the 18:13 mark.
Hartman responded with a come-around goal, but the Green Raiders answered with a 3-0 run that included goals by Sam Bartow, Donkin and Massimo, trimming the Maidens lead to 9-5 with 7:40 remaining.
Once again, the Maidens employed their stall game, and when McDermott was doubled near the restraining line, she found a streaking Hartman for the score.
“We were just holding the ball until the double came – then we were thinking ‘score,’” McDermott said. “When they started coming back, we came together as a team and said, ‘This is not happening. This is our game.’”
NORTH PENN 10, RIDLEY 6
Ridley 1 5- 6
North Penn 7 3- 10
Goals/Assists: Ridley – Becky Donkin 3-0, Jenna Massimo 2-0, Sam Barlow 1-0, Shaela Allen 0-1. North Penn – Lauren McDermott 4-1, Abbie Hartman 3-0, Alyssa Culp 2-0, Danielle Horn 1-0, Ali Green 0-1.
Shots: NP-21, Ridley-20.
Saves: Maura Flynn (Ridley) 8, Lyndsay Hepler (NP) 14.
Photo coutesy of Suburbanonesports.com