Jun 08, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Marisa Romeo and Taylor Poplawski remembered how glorious it felt two years ago, when Christian Brothers Academy’s girls lacrosse team earned its first-ever state championship, and they were bent on having that glorious feeling once again.
So it only figured that this superb senior tandem was at the heart of the Brothers’ second state title in three years, earned Saturday afternoon at SUNY-Cortland when it defeated Section V champion Brighton 14-7 in the Class B title game.
Between them, Romeo and Poplawski produced nine goals – Romeo six, Poplawski three – both of them proving too difficult for the Barons to contain.
“This is the place for the stars to shine, and they (Marisa and Taylor) definitely came out today,” said CBA head coach Doug Sedgwick.
For her part, Romeo said it was the ideal ending to her high school career. “I can’t explain it, ending the season like this,” she said. “This is incredible.”
Poplawski agreed, saying that, in the wake of a disappointing defeat in last year’s state semifinals, “it feels so good to be back here to win it. Everything worked out well.”
Unlike 2011, when CBA pulled out a 9-8 thriller over Mount Sinai in the state Class C final, this game had no suspense down the stretch as the Brothers staged its claim as, arguably, the top team in the state.
With its traditionally strong defense, Brighton was bent on not letting CBA run wild in the manner it has against so many other opponents this spring, and it did succeed for a while.
Other than Poplawski’s goal at the 2:04 mark, the Brothers were shut down in the early stages as the Barons put double and triple teams on Romeo. On the other end, though, Brighton could not take advantage, meeting fierce resistance from an inspired CBA defense.
Seeing the attention given to Romeo, Poplawski took full advantage, hitting on two more goals midway through the half, with Emily Ehle converting in between, extending the lead to 4-1.
Not until the 14:22 mark did Romeo get on the board, but she was far from done. After Brighton closed the gap to 6-3 late in the half, turnovers forced by Maddie Calkins and Rachel Vercillo led to back-to-back goals from Romeo, the last of them with 1.1 seconds to play.
Sedgwick said it was only fitting that Romeo and Poplawski led the way, calling them “the two best players in the state. They want to win for all the right reasons.”
At the half, CBA had an 8-3 advantage, and more importantly, it could dictate the terms the rest of the way, knowing how well its defense was protecting the net.
Calkins, Alexa Radziewicz, Hailey Dobbins and Alyssa Pitonzo harassed the Barons’ front line, forcing turnovers long before they could get to the net. Sedgwick said it was the best his defense had played in his entire coaching tenure.
Yet another forced turnover led to Rachel Perla’s goal 4:27 into the second half. Now, whenever it had the ball, the Brothers took more time, but didn’t go into a shell.
Romeo got her fourth goal with 17:52 to play, and assisted on Olivia Pitonzo’s tally nearly five minutes later. Just to be sure, Romeo put in two more goals, and the margin grew to 13-3 before Brighton made a belated charge that decreased the winning margin, but did little else.
“The kids had a goal, and reached it,” said Sedgwick. “All year long this team has produced.”
And CBA might not be done. True, Romeo and Poplawski depart, as do Perla, Calkins and both Pitonzo sisters. But a strong group, including Ehle, Vercillo, Dobbins, Radziewicz, Maddie Cook and goalie Alea Bonner, form the core of the 2014 team, who is likely to at least contend again, if not make it back to Cortland.