Lady Panther lacrosse continues southside dominance

Starr’s Mill claims fifth straight area championship over McIntosh


Craig Bardo

Senior Jacqueline Broderick evades a McIntosh defender and carries the ball up the field into the attacking zone. Broderick forced five of McIntosh’s 20 turnovers as Starr’s Mill defeated the Chiefs 7-3 for the area championship.

Peter Beardsley, Staff Writer

The Starr’s Mill girls lacrosse team has evolved into a Georgia powerhouse over the past five years. Last Thursday the Lady Panthers looked to build on that legacy by capturing their fifth straight area championship. With the number one seed for playoffs on the line, the Panthers battled with the Chiefs and came out on top, 7-3.

Seniors Jacqueline Broderick and Addie McDaniel prevent a McIntosh player from scoring. The Panther defense held the Chief offense to three goals. Prior to the meeting, McIntosh averaged 16 goals per game. The Panther defense played a key role in the victory compiling eight saves, causing 20 turnovers, and picking up 24 groundballs. (Craig Bardo)

“It was a hard-fought game for sure,” head coach Mary Lehman said. “The girls from beginning to end never gave up, they pushed it through, and played the entire game as if they were down one even though they were up the entire time.”

For Starr’s Mill, junior Briley Kalen and senior Lexi Santiago tallied two goals apiece. Seniors Jessica DeLuca and Addie McDaniel, and junior Hannah Leon each added one. Senior Jacqueline Broderick caused five turnovers and collected six groundballs. Senior Goalie Kaitlyn Donovan had eight saves on 11 shots. 

McIntosh relied on junior Ryann Banks, who scored two goals, to create some offensive looks, but the Panther defense proved too strong. In total, the Panther defense forced 20 turnovers, shutting down the Chief offense. 

The game started with a quick strike from Kalen to give Starr’s Mill the early advantage. Both teams were held scoreless for eight minutes until Deluca found the back of the net and put the Panthers on top 2-0. 

“I think we played really hard and worked great as a team,” Kalen said. 

The Lady Panthers showcased their athleticism with a fast-paced first half. Leon and Kalen would further the Panther lead to 4-0. McDaniel would jump in on the scoring with a minute left, pushing the Panthers lead to 5-1 heading into halftime. 

As the second half commenced it would take almost seven minutes for both teams to find their footing on the offensive sides. Santiago would strike twice in a three-minute span and round out the scoring to put the Panthers atop 7-1. 

When we start to feel that pressure, we have to be able to slow it down, get control, and take care of the ball.

— head coach Mary Lehman

“Even though we didn’t play our greatest, we still kicked butt and came together,” Santiago said.

McIntosh goalie Gabbie Szatkowski held the Panther offense scoreless for the remaining 14 minutes of the game. Banks and sophomore Riley Phillips would each score, but the comeback effort was quickly shut down by the Panther defense. 

The victory bell signaled a 7-3 win as the Lady Panthers earned their fifth straight area championship.

The Lady Panthers look to finish their season strong with four games, three of which against opponents ranked in the Top 25 on MaxPreps. 

“We need to make sure that mentally we are more prepared,” Lehman said. “When we start to feel that pressure, we have to be able to slow it down, get control, and take care of the ball.” 

The Lady Panthers host their final home game of the regular season on April 19 versus the Centennial Knights from Roswell.