Jun 06, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Bursting with youthful confidence, the Christian Brothers Academy girls lacrosse team strode onto the turf at SUNY-Cortland Friday morning trying to move one step closer to repeating as state Class B champions.
But it was soon apparent that Section V champion Victor had no intention of aiding in making the Brothers’ wishes come true.
From turnovers, to an inability to pick up ground balls, to a key injury early in the game, to a tremendous effort from Blue Devils goalie Liz Nussabaum, little went right for the Brothers as it fell, 11-1, to Victor, who advanced to face Manhasset in Saturday’s state title game.
CBA head coach Doug Sedgwick said the team’s youth (it starts seven sophomores and two freshmen) showed up in the form of frustration once things turned the Blue Devils’ way.
“We didn’t do anything well,” he said. “Our youth was quite apparent. And they (Victor) pushed us around quite a bit.”
The early-morning start time, combined with the inevitable nerves of playing in such a big game, seemed to bother both teams at the outset, with a series of empty possessions and turnovers. But things started to turn toward the Blue Devils when Bridget Flynn’s goal at the 8:38 mark gave Victor the lead for good.
Right from that moment, Victor started taking care of the ball, while CBA continued to give it away, a lot of it forced by the pressure that Blue Devils defenders like Jillian Bailey, Taylor Wood and Zoe Spiegelhoff applied to the Brothers’ front line.
And it didn’t help CBA that, midway through the first half, with the score still 2-0, sophomore star Maddie Cook went out with a knee injury, and would not return.
Trying to draw inspiration from Cook’s absence, all of the players put the inititals “MC” on their arms, but the problems remained the same – whenever it did attack and found open space to shoot, Nussbaum, Victor’s senior goalie, would gobble it up.
A telling sequence came late in the half. By then, the Blue Devils had a 5-0 lead, and trying to close the gap, CBA’s Rachel Vercillo drew a free-position stop. Again, Nussbaum stopped it, and when the Blue Devils turned it over seconds later, giving Emily Ehle a one-on-one chance, Nussbaum stopped her, too, one of seven saves she made in the first half (she would finish with 12).
“We played catch with her (Nussbaum),” said Sedgwick. “We shot low, and stick-side, and she got them.”
From the other end, CBA’s senior goalie, Alea Bonner, who herself had five first-half saves, had a good view of her teammate’s struggles.
“It was frustrating,” said Bonner. “But we didn’t give up, and the girls really stayed with it.”
Finally, Ehle put CBA on the board 14 seconds before halftime, cutting the gap to 5-1. But when Hannah Savage, Alyssa Fries and Bridget Flynn, who combined for seven of Victor’s 11 goals, found the net early in the second half, it put the game out of the Brothers’ reach.
Amid the disappointment, Sedgwick said that this reminded him of 2012, when the Brothers lost in the state semifinals at Cortland, an experience from which CBA drew motivation to win the state title the following year.
“What we’ll do is build on this,” he said. “They won’t forget this for a day.”
Bonner, one of just two seniors (along with Hailey Dobbins) who are departing, said that her teammates are well-positioned to come back to Cortland in 2015 and win it all.
“They’ve got to want it more than everything,” said Bonner. “They are going to come back, and play better.”