It was a nail biter behind Essex High School (EHS) Saturday afternoon.
The hosting Hornets defeated BFA St. Albans 11-10 in varsity girls’ lacrosse action after scoring with just 34 seconds left to go in regulation.
Game at a glance
Neither side could sustain an upper hand for more than a few minutes in the first half as teams traded scoring spurts. There were five lead changes through the opening stanza with the Comets taking the last one – scoring twice in the final 1:41 to bring a 6-5 edge into the break.
Essex would regain the advantage in the second period with two goals in a matter of 22 seconds. The Hornets went on to rattle off four unanswered tallies for a 9-7 lead and stayed in front for most of the game’s remainder.
BFA wouldn’t go quietly, however, and scored three times in the final 5:54 – the last coming with 56 ticks on the clock – to tie it at 10-10. Off the ensuing draw, Essex made a big-time save in the crease before charging down the field.
A shot from freshman Breya Montague beat the Comet keeper for the go-ahead score with 34 seconds to go, and the Hornets then forced the ball down into the visitors’ end of the field as time expired without a final BFA push for the equalizer.
- After losing its season opener, Essex has now won three-straight for a 3-1 overall record.
- The Hornets have also won their last three games against the Comets.
- Montague finished with 3 scores and an assist for the day.
- EHS senior Abigail Robbins also had 3 goals to go along with her game-high 5 assists.
- Sophomore Abigail Lacross scored twice in the win while seniors Sarah Sparks and Delaney Harrison both found the back of the cage once.
- Fellow senior Adeline Deming also notched a goal – it being the first of her varsity career. She and classmate Hannah Himes each posted an assist.
- Himes and freshman Sierra Harris split time in net for Essex – chalking up 4 and 6 saves, respectively.
- Next up on the Hornets’ schedule is a 4:30 p.m. tilt at South Burlington on Tuesday.
Thoughts from Essex High Head Coach Grace O’Neil and Assistant Coach Skip Harris
O’Neil: “I think it was a pretty even matchup. I think they have a lot of really strong, tall girls, and we had to kind of see how they were going to handle the ball and then react to it. We do have times where we kind of dip our toes in before we do a full dive in, and we've been trying to overcome that obstacle and starting the game off playing how we know how to play, instead of seeing how our opponents start out.
“But I think, as the game progressed, we learned from our blunders, we learned from mistakes, and then just continued to fight hard for ball. One of the conversations we had yesterday was: make every 50/50 ball yours; just fight hard for possession.
“We've got South Burlington on Tuesday, and we're just looking ahead. This is a great learning opportunity, and that's just what we're taking it as. We're not going to let it go to our heads; we've got plenty more season to play, and this is all just practice for playoffs.”
Harris: “I'm just really excited for the girls and happy about the way they showed up, and the way they took care of the ball, and the way they played. When it was 10-10, just the way they responded and showed up in that last minute was really awesome. They knew what they needed to do, and they did it.”
Q: Was there anything specific you told your team after BFA tied it up late in the game that you’re willing to share?
O’Neil: “We really focus on: think about things one step at a time. I don't want you to think about: we need to get the ball in the net. I want you to think about: okay, there's going to be a draw; we need to get the ball off the draw, and then we need to look for the next pass to work it up the field; and then when we get there, we need to calm it down, balance ourselves out offensively and then try something. So we've really been working on just looking at things one step at a time. The big picture will come as long as we break it down into the steps, and they've been really good at focusing on each step as we're working it up the field and working through a game.”
Harris: “We told them just to calm down, take it easy. In the CVU game, they responded very similarly when it was very close, and this game they responded to as well. So it was really, really good to see.”
O’Neil: “And I think this team has done a really great job when faced with adversity. They don't get down on themselves; they use it as motivation, and they use it as a tool to motivate each other. Beyond any team I've ever been on, they really have each other's backs, and they're really key at being motivators for one another. And I think that's why we're able – in such close games – to keep a level head. We just know we've got people backing us up.”