Thatcher Nets 4 Against Rival Chardon in Semifinal
June 6, 2024 by Alan Kornspan

On May 29, the Chardon Hilltoppers girls lacrosse team hosted the Chagrin Falls Tigers in the OHSAA Regional Semifinals.

For all the game photos click here.

On May 29, the Chardon Hilltoppers girls lacrosse team hosted the Chagrin Falls Tigers in the OHSAA Regional Semifinals.

In this rivalry contest, the Tigers took an early 3-1 lead. The Hilltoppers came back to make it 5-4 midway through the third quarter, but the Tigers stayed resilient and scored the final four goals to claim a 8-5 win.

Chagrin Falls Coach KC White expressed how proud she was of her team.

“We were really excited for this game because Chardon has been such a great rival for us,” White said. “We knew they would play us really hard, and we were very confident in our game plan. I’m so proud of the girls for executing what we had worked on in practice.”

A main focus of the Tigers’ game plan was to slow down the Hilltoppers offensive attack, which netted 10 goals the last time the two teams met in the regular season.

The Tigers took an early 2-0 lead on goals by senior Bailey Corto and junior Emma Thatcher, and led 3-1 with under four minutes to play in the first half.

Chardon would add goals goals by Riley McKenna and Gray Tyminski, but the Tigers added a late first-half goal to take a 4-3 lead heading into halftime.

Third quarter tension and excitement were intense as the teams evened the score twice and also exchanged the lead twice.

First, the Hilltoppers evened the contest at 4-4 when Elle Deszczykiewicz netted her second goal of the game just 34 seconds into the third quarter.

The Hilltoppers then took a 5-4 lead midway through the third quarter on a goal by Morgan Slack.

After Chardon took the lead, the Tigers finished the contest by scoring four unanswered goals.

Thatcher scored two of the final four, while Corto and Lyla Breeden added the other two goals.

In obtaining the victory over the Hilltoppers, the Tigers limited their opponents to five fewer goals than they’d scored in the previous contest.

To limit the Hilltoppers’ scoring, the Tigers coaching staff implemented a defensive strategy that yielded effective results. In fact, the coaching staff decided to face guard one of the Hilltoppers leading scorers.

In lacrosse, face guarding is when a defensive player is assigned to follow an opponent’s top offensive scorer to limit them from receiving the ball and getting shots on goal.

Afterward, Coach White explained the defensive strategy.

“We knew that they had a player that scored, I think, five goals on us last time, and so we felt like if we could face guard her and take her out of the offense, that would improve our chances,” Coach White said.

As the defense, led by Brix Niethammer, effectively implemented its defensive strategy, the Tigers offense was led by Emma Thatcher, who had four goals.

Post-game, Thatcher emphasized that the team’s offense worked really well together and focused on spacing and effectively maintaining possession of the ball.

With the win, Chagrin Falls advanced to the Regional Final against Hathaway Brown on May 31.

It was a close contest, but Hathaway Brown ultimately won the title by outscoring the Tigers 9-6.