"We're going to take the first game and give it all we got." — K C White, coach
Chagrin Falls girls lacrosse will make its third consecutive trip — and fourth in the past five years — to the Ohio Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association Final Four.
The Tigers handily defeated the Minutemen from Revere last Friday night at Harris Stadium.
The Tigers have lost in their last two semifinals appearances, including a 17-14 defeat to Worthington Kilbourne. The Tigers will go into this year’s final four outscoring their opponents 64-12 in three playoff games.
This year’s Tigers are looking to match the school record win total of 18 set by the 2010 team, which reached the state championship. The girls improved to 17-1 on the season after defeating Revere, 18-8.
They have won 10 straight games in a row; in fact, they haven’t lost since April 17. They also improved to 20-1 at home the last two years. They’re 31-6 at home since 2011.
One Tiger who will soon not forget the night they advanced to the state final four is senior Lily Manchester. She not only led her team to the state final four in her final home game of her career, she then hurried off to the Blossom Festival where she was named Blossom Time Queen.
Manchester led the Tigers with six goals on the night. Junior Kelsey Owen chipped in five goals, along with two goals a piece from Morgan Walker, Ali Magyaros and Kirsten Hendricks. The Tigers have also been stout on the defensive side, only allowing 37 goals in the last six games.
“Winning the game was unbeliev-able,” said?Manchester. “It was a little unexpected at the beginning of the season after losing 10 seniors. We really stepped up, and we’re really excited about it.
“I think there were a lot of opportunities I liked. There wasn’t one specific shot, we had so many great transitions. It didn’t feel like they were just my goals; it was literally deserving of the team.”
Junior goalie Molly Hopkins has waited for two years behind All-American Maddie Wilson. This year she got her shot and has been a key part of the Tigers’ run to the final four.
“I can’t believe we’re here finally, and it’s a dream come true,” she said. “I couldn’t expect anymore from my teammates. We all work together so well. I’m so happy we have a team that respects each other so much.”
About the upcoming state final four, and the short week of preparation before Friday’s game, she added, “We’re not going home. We have been there two years in row — we have had to go home.?We’re not going home. Everyone has that in their minds:?we want to win, and we’re showing up to win.”
Chagrin Falls coach KC White has won 75 percent in her first four years, including 33-4 the past two seasons. After her team clinched its third trip to the state final four during her tenure, she said, “The thing I’m most proud of this team about is how they played together today. The scoring came from all different players, the defense was excellent, we played well in transition, and our goalie made some great stops. As a whole team we made this victory happen, and that’s why we’re a special team.”
The Tigers started off a little slower than usual, only leading 4-3 with 11 minutes left in the first half, and only leading 7-4 at halftime.
White attributed the slow start to Revere playing with a lot of heart, along with the play of Maddie Holvey, we also hadn’t faced a lot of intense play on the field the last couple of games. The team had to adjust to a different speed of play, also getting their game back in order, she said.
Owen offered some insight into the talk at halftime, saying, “We talked about adjusting in transition. We needed to get transition goals, we’re best at doing that. We did that better in the second half.”
Chagrin Falls started off the second half on a 6-0 run, scoring all six goals in the first six minutes of the half. The Tigers only allowed four goals in the second half, and held Revere scoreless over the final seven minutes of the game.
When asked about the quick start to the second half, Manchester said, “I think it’s so important, because the start of the second half really determines how the rest of the game is going to go, and to have the security right from the beginning, we just had to get it done then and now.”
Owen added, “Positive energy — we definitely had a momentum change and that carried us through the game.”
The Tigers defense also had to hold Stetson signee Maddie Holvey in check from the Minuteman. She scored seven of the eight goals for Revere. Owen said, “She is definitely the player we scouted most heavily. She was successful at getting the draws and going right to goal. Before the game we worked on shutting her down.”
When asked about making the state final after a couple near-misses, White said, “We have had a goal all year:?to take it one game at a time. For us, every playoff game, we know if we don’t show up it could be the last game of our season. Now we’re looking towards the state tournament, and we’re going to take the first game and give it all we got.”
With a win in the regional finals, the Tigers will move on to face Indian Hill in the state semifinals on Friday at New Albany High School. The Braves enter the game with a 16-3 record; they have won 10 games in a row.
For more photos of Chagrin Falls lacrosse visit: http://smu.gs/1oxYSSn
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