Lacrosse seasons end in second round

A+Panther+player+defends+a+Lion+player+behind+the+goal.+The+Lions%E2%80%99+quick+offense+used+ball+movement+and+cuts+to+tear+up+the+Starr%E2%80%99s+Mill+defense.

Aelise Gagliano

A Panther player defends a Lion player behind the goal. The Lions’ quick offense used ball movement and cuts to tear up the Starr’s Mill defense.

Rilee Stapleton, Staff Writer

This past Saturday, both Starr’s Mill lacrosse teams competed in their second round matchups of the Georgia High School Association State Playoffs. Both the boys and girls fell in close contests.

I heard the girls saying that this has been the best chemistry they’ve ever had on a team, and it’s such a privilege to be a part of that.”

— varsity girls' lacrosse coach Mary Lehman

“I’ve been telling the girls that it has been an absolute privilege for me to be a part of such a phenomenal team,” head coach Mary Lehman said. “I heard the girls saying that this has been the best chemistry they’ve ever had on a team, and it’s such a privilege to be a part of that.”

The Lady Panthers took on Westminster in their second round match. The Wildcats finished the regular season 14-6, and took momentum from a first round blowout into the game at Panther Stadium.

The Panthers started out very slow, and nine minutes into the game they found themselves down 5-0. It wasn’t until the 16:27 mark that the Panthers answered. Sophomore Caroline Andrews launched a shot that opened the floodgates for the Starr’s Mill offense. After giving up one more goal, the Panthers went on a 6-0 run to take a 7-6 lead. The Wildcats managed to put the ball in the net with 12 seconds before half to tie the game going into the break.

The second half was constantly back and forth as the teams traded goals. Senior Isabelle Dadd scored multiple times to keep Westminster in the game. The Wildcats used a late run to pull away and capture a 15-12 victory. They will play Blessed Trinity in the next round.

As for the Lady Panthers, a historic season came to an end. Before the playoffs started, the Lady Panthers were the only AAAAA lacrosse team, boys or girls, to finish the regular season undefeated. Whether the games were blowouts or tight contests, the Panthers found a way to win. This feat will be key for a young team that looks to bring a state championship to the Mill in the next few years.

Aelise Gagliano
Sophomore Reid Harrison and a Lovett defender fight for a loose ball. While the Panthers did well on the faceoffs, the Lions out-hustled the Panthers on almost every loose ball.

“Getting to this point undefeated and [being able to] put Westminster in that position,” Lehman said. “If that doesn’t prove these girls never give up, I don’t know what does.”

On the boys’ side, the Panthers matched up with perennial powerhouse Lovett. The Lions were 14-4 in the regular season, and decisively won their first round game against Woodward Academy. Their dominance on their home field wouldn’t come into play as they made the trip to the Bubble.

The boys started very similarly to the girls. After the first quarter, the Panthers trailed 3-0, and seven minutes into the second their deficit was stretched to 6-0. Senior Cole Colson put the Panthers on the board, and freshman Reid Harrison and junior Ryan Cockes helped bring the Panthers within three. Sophomore Reid Edelstein scored the final goal before halftime to put Lovett up 7-3.

“[Lovett] is just really good,” head coach Jeff Schmidlkofer said. “They went on a 6-0 run and we just never recovered.”

After halftime, the Panthers offense started to heat up, but Lovett continued to score as well. The teams went back and forth and Starr’s Mill still trailed 9-5 with 9:45 left in the third. It was then that the Lions put their foot on the gas. They pushed away and gained a 12-6 lead, and held it for the rest of the quarter.

This program is heading in the right direction.”

— varsity boys' lacrosse coach Jeff Schmidlkofer

Cockes scored once more just 41 seconds into the final quarter, but it wouldn’t be enough. After a few more scores, the buzzer sounded and the Lions looked at a scoreboard that showed 16-8 in their favor. The Lions will also face off with Blessed Trinity in the next round of the state playoffs.

“You can’t let a team with that kind of firepower get ahead of you like that,” Schmidlkofer said. “Then you’re playing catch up, and you get out of rhythm.”

The boys’ 17-3 record doesn’t seem to show improvement, but this year’s team managed to get over their first round woes. After a 17-1 regular season a year ago, the boys fell in the first round. This steady improvement is crucial for a young squad like Starr’s Mill. The Panthers will only lose seven players to graduation, as the rest of the roster seeks a championship while they’re at the Mill.

“I feel very good [about this team],” Schmidlkofer said. “This program is heading in the right direction.”