Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/26/15
Laura Pansini scored the game-winner on a free position shot with four minutes to play and Agnes Irwin’s staunch defense held as the Owls defeated host Vero Beach (FL), 8-7, in nearby Davenport today in a signature win for the program.
Agnes Irwin (4-0) fell behind early, 4-0, and later had to rally from a 7-6 deficit following a quick rain delay that helped swing the momentum to Vero Beach (11-2). The Fighting Indians are the No. 17 team in the STEPS Lacrosse North America Rankings and the nine-time defending Florida state champs.
Sophomore goalie Hailey Andress made a key save down the stretch and Kate White and Kate Chernitsky controlled crucial ground balls to help Irwins maintain possession and run out the clock for the victory.
“This is such a big win for us! It feels great,” said Pansini, a junior committed to Princeton. “It shows what our program is capable of.”
“Our defense was outstanding today and our ability to control the draw was critical,” said Jenny Duckenfield, Agnes Irwin head coach. “Their goalie had a great game and we had to be able to maintain possession in the offensive end.”
Junior Emily Fryer dominated the midfield with five ground balls and five draw controls, and classmate Hannah Keating added another five draw controls.
“This was the most fun lacrosse game I have ever played,” Fryer said “It was about more than lacrosse, it was about heart and character and being a team. I am so happy to be able to share this with these girls.”
The Vero game is the first of three for the Owls, who on Saturday in the annual AMLAX tourney in St. Petersburg also play Gulf Coast and 10-1 Ponte Vedra, which has lost only to Vero Beach.
Pansini said the team’s defense of Sarah Platt, Kate White, Emily Fryer, Chemitsky (freshman), Alicia O’Neil and Maria Pansini (freshman) – should get the most credit; she also cited goalie Hailey Andress.
“We prepared really hard for this game, practicing hard, working on plays,” Laura Pansini said. “We came with a fire to this game! We were all so excited to step on that field and play.”
After Agnes Irwin took the 8-7 lead, the Owls held the ball for nearly the entire final few minutes.
Hannah and Lila Barker each contributed a hat trick on the offensive end. Andress made six saves and the Agnes Irwin defense combined to cause five turnovers and scooped up 20 ground balls.
“We had possession with 2 minutes left and we stayed calm, spread it out, and ran around Vero,” said Pansini. “The defense has really stepped it up this year. We gave up only five goals against Notre Dame, five goals against GA (Germantown Academy) and eight goals against Conestoga, and seven today against a very strong team.”
“It was a total team win in the sense that everybody at some point in the game did something to help us win,” said Duckenfield. “The defense has been our strength.
“They took a 4-0 lead right away, and we had a lot of fouls called against us. But we battled back.”
Said Fryer: “I think a big factor in today’s game was momentum. Our entire team seemed to have a spark today and I think that really translated onto the field. Everyone was encouraging and stepping up where it was needed – whether emotionally or physically.
“The sidelines also played a huge role in the win today. They were constantly shouting and on their feet. Overall, it was just a great game of lacrosse and that’s all one can ask for! Moving forward, we know what it takes for us to play our best as a team and that’s the most exciting part!”
Pansini said the win gives the team confidence. Agnes Irwin also will be playing national powers Hauppauge (N.Y.), Moorestown (N.J.) later this year.
“We won as a team and it continues to lift the AIS lax program to greater heights,” said Pansini. “But I feel like it’s only just begun. We are just getting started!
“Coach Duck has been fantastic and making sure that we all work hard both defensively and offensively and work as a team. She inspires us to always do our best and let’s us know that if we do our best – we are a tough team!”
“This was a team effort,” Duckenfield said. “The girls really gutted it out and found a way to win against a very talented team. This win is a testament to the hard work they have put in to build this program over the last three years.”
Agnes Irwin 8, Vero Beach 7
AIS 2 6 – 8
Vero Beach 4 3 – 7
Lila Barker 3g, 1a
Kristin Burnetta 1g
Hannah Keating 3g
Laura Pansini 1g
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