Sweet Carolines propel Lady Panthers to first state championship


Shelby Foster

Panther player and coach celebrate their Final Four victory over Westminster. By defeating the Lady Wildcats, Starr’s Mill advanced to their first ever state championship game. They will take on Blessed Trinity, the winner of the past two state championships.

Rilee Stapleton, Editor-in-Chief

With their 15-8 win over Westminster, the Lady Panthers lacrosse team joined the other sports programs in the Mill that have made history this year.

On Tuesday, the Lady Panthers clinched their first ever state championship appearance. Their fast-paced offense and pesky defense proved to be too much for the Wildcats.

Everybody [on our team] is a great player … Everyone can shoot, everyone can pass, everyone can play defense.”

— junior Caroline Andrews

“This whole season we have preached to the girls to play for [their] teammates,” head coach Mary Lehman said. “They have the best chemistry of any team.”

Senior Caroline Broderick and junior Caroline Andrews powered the offense for Starr’s Mill, with each scoring four goals. Sophomores Ryanne King and Jordyn Richards each added two goals to help the Panthers avenge their Final Four loss to the Wildcats two seasons ago.

Westminster struggled on both ends of the field as they quickly fell into a 6-0 hole before they managed to score. Starr’s Mill dominated the face-offs and kept the ball away from the Lady Wildcats.

“Starting out strong was huge for us,” Lehman said. “I think we’ve found that to be crucial over these past few games.”

The early onslaught from Starr’s Mill began with a goal from Broderick a minute into the game. Just 28 seconds later, Andrews assisted on another Broderick goal. Over the next eight minutes, Richards scored twice, while Broderick and Andrews each scored once. With 15 minutes until halftime, the Lady Panthers held a 6-0 lead.

Westminster finally got on the board at the 13:51 mark with a goal from junior Saige-Simone Hayes. However, freshman Lady Panther Jacqueline Broderick responded a minute later to counter the Wildcat goal. After a Westminster goal from senior Kate Miller, the score stayed locked at 7-2 for the next eight minutes.

Caroline Broderick broke the drought at the 4:19 mark in the half with her fourth goal of the night, putting Starr’s Mill up 8-2. Junior Alyssa Angelo followed with another goal for Starr’s Mill, and Andrews added another before half. Westminster scored once more before the break, and trailed 8-3 going into halftime.

Shelby Foster
Sophomore Jordyn Richards fends off two Wildcat defenders. Richards was one of four Lady Panthers to score multiple goals against Westminster. The versatile Panther offense and depth have helped them cruise past their playoff opponents.

“Everybody [on our team] is a great player,” Andrews said. “Everyone can shoot, everyone can pass, everyone can play defense.”

Starr’s Mill kept their foot on the gas to begin the second half as Andrews scored just 70 seconds in. Junior Emma Kate Lill responded three minutes later for Westminster, but they still trailed 11-4. Two minutes later, King and senior Elizabeth Holley scored back-to-back goals before the Lady Wildcats were able to score again. With 15 minutes left, Starr’s Mill led 13-5.

Throughout the last 15 minutes, the game slowed down as the Lady Panthers began to chew clock. For each goal Westminster scored, Starr’s Mill had an answer. The Wildcats deficit was too much to overcome, and the Lady Panthers avenged their previous playoff losses to Westminster with a 15-8 victory in this year’s Final Four.

“We’re energized and we’re very excited,” Caroline Broderick said. “This has kind of been our year so we really want to win [the state championship].”

The Lady Panthers’ victory adds on to an athletic program that has accomplished a lot of firsts this year. The football team won back-to-back region championships for the first time, the boys’ basketball team won the region tournament for the first time while also reaching the Elite 8 for the first time. The boys’ lacrosse team won consecutive area championships for the first time as well.

Waiting for the Lady Panthers in the championship game is Blessed Trinity.

The Lady Titans have played to a 19-2 record this season including 7-0 in their area matchups. On average, they assist on 7.5 of their 15 goals per game, while only allowing 5.9 goals per game.

Starr’s Mill will look to defeat the defending champions while Blessed Trinity seeks a third straight championship. The foes will compete at 12 p.m. on May 19 at Kennesaw State University.

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