Christian Brothers Academy girls lacrosse players celebrate after defeating Brighton 14-7 for the state Class B championship Saturday at SUNY-Cortland. It's the Brothers' second state title in three years, to go with the Class C crown earned in 2011.
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.