All around performance helps Panthers top Wildcats


Alyson Phinney

Panther players celebrate after a goal. The Mill never let up on the offensive end against Whitewater as they scored 16 goals, their second highest goal tally this season. Juniors Cameron Herd and Christian Sparkman for over half the team’s goals, scoring four and five respectively.

Ben Barkley, Staff Writer

After a heartbreaking 8-7 loss against Buford last Saturday, the Starr’s Mill varsity boys’ lacrosse team came into their game against the Whitewater Wildcats having won their last 12 meetings against them. A powerful offensive game plan and a defense that did not step down earned the Panthers a 16-1 victory.

Alyson Phinney
Panther players stop a Wildcat from gaining possession. The Starr’s Mill defense was just as dominant as the offense, only allowing one goal for Whitewater. Leading the way were goalies senior Derek Saylor and junior Brock Merritt, and defenders junior Daniel Ferraro, and sophomore Cole Bishop.

“My performance was amazing, but I don’t look on individual performance,” junior Cameron Herd said. “It was a good team win, and that’s all there was to it.”

The offense mainly was powered by juniors Christian Sparkman and Herd, who scored five and four goals, respectively. Senior Jacob Zellen contributed two goals, and junior Garrett Meunick, sophomores Cole Bishop, Gabe Lopez, and Eric Rausch, and freshman Barrett Schmidlkofer each produced one goal.

Defensively, senior goalie Derek Saylor only allowed one goal early in the second quarter, but didn’t allow another for the rest of the first half. Junior goalie Brock Merritt finished the game with a second half shutout. Besides the goalies, Bishop and junior Daniel Ferraro led the way, playing lock-down defense and not allowing the Wildcats any chances on the offensive end.

“We’ve got to get over who we play and we’ve got to play fast,” head coach Jeff Schmidlkofer said. “Sometimes we go into matches a little bit too much focused on who we’re playing, but we have to play the same way against every opponent.”

The Mill got off to a quick offensive start in the first quarter, as Herd scored his first goal seven seconds in off a corner shot. Despite the early goal, Whitewater goalie senior Isaac Bohrer picked up his game, making impressive saves to keep Starr’s Mill off the board. The Panther offense finished the quarter off strong, as Sparkman scored two goals within 30 seconds to end the first quarter with a 3-0 lead for the Panthers.

Sometimes we go into matches a little bit too much focused on who we’re playing, but we have to play the same way against every opponent.

— head coach Jeff Schmidlkofer

“Their goalie probably had at least 20 saves,” Sparkman said. “We won’t win games against higher competition shooting the ball like that.”

The Mill continued to play aggressively at the start of the second quarter. However, Saylor let a shot by Wildcat freshman attacker Ethan Crawford slip by him, giving the Wildcats their only score of the game. Offensively, the Panthers were not letting up, as Herd scored his second goal of the night, and Zellen scored off a fast break to give Starr’s Mill a 5-1 lead.

“We moved the ball faster,” Herd said. “We were a little static in the Buford game, but we picked it up this game.”

Sparkman scored his third goal to earn a hat trick as the Panthers took a 6-1 lead with five minutes left in the quarter. While still playing great defense to keep Whitewater off the board, the Mill slowed down on offense and let the clock run out, giving them a 6-1 lead at halftime.

Alyson Phinney
Junior Garrett Meunick takes off after winning a faceoff. Meunick won almost every faceoff in the 16-1 victory. He even scored off one of them near the end of the third quarter.

“We just executed offensively,” Schmidlkofer said. “If you come to our practice, it wouldn’t look like the same team on Saturday [against Buford].”

The third quarter was all offense for Starr’s Mill, as Sparkman scored his last two goals of the night to make the score 8-1 early. Herd also scored his last two goals of the night to increase the Panther lead to 10-1.

“We worked around the ball a lot faster on offense,” Sparkman said. “We were also playing a lot more unselfish.”

Lopez and Bishop each scored off corner shots to make the score 12-1. Meunick then scored off a fast break due to a faceoff victory as the quarter came to a close, giving the Panthers a 13-1 lead.

“We had very good ball movement,” Herd said. “We also didn’t care about who we were facing like we usually do.

The fourth quarter saw continued offensive aggression for the Mill, as Zellen scored his second goal two minutes in to make the score 14-1. The Panthers had two more scores in the game, as Rausch and Schmidlkofer each found the net off fast breaks to make the final score 16-1.

“This is a young team,” Schmidlkofer said. “We just have to keep working, and it helps that they are unselfish.”

The Panthers now have a 5-4 record, with no region games played yet. Their next game is at 7:30 p.m. on March 21 in Panther Stadium against the 3-4 St. Pius X Catholic High School Golden Lions.