Lady Panther season ends with 15-14 loss to Northview

Senior+Emma+Grace+Hepler+carries+the+ball+into+the+attacking+third+of+the+field+while+avoiding+a+Northview+defender.+Hepler+combined+for+five+goals%2C+two+assists%2C+and+seven+draw+controls.+Hepler+finished+as+the+leader+in+points+for+the+Panthers+this+season.+

Katie Johnson

Senior Emma Grace Hepler carries the ball into the attacking third of the field while avoiding a Northview defender. Hepler combined for five goals, two assists, and seven draw controls. Hepler finished as the leader in points for the Panthers this season.

Peter Beardsley, Staff Writer

Last Wednesday the Starr’s Mill girls lacrosse team hosted the Northview Titans in the semifinals of the A-5A GHSA State Playoffs. They ultimately fell 15-14, putting them at 11-11 overall on the season. Seniors Emma Grace Hepler and Hannah Leon combined for nine of the team’s overall 14 goals. 

They put their entire heart out on that field.”

— head coach Mary Lehman

The Panthers were led offensively by seniors Hepler, Leon, Kylie Valenta, and junior Jackson McDaniel. Hepler recorded seven draw controls as well as two assists. Valenta also had three draw controls and one assist. McDaniel dished out an assist to compliment her hat trick. Defensively the Panthers were led by freshman Sofia Marshburn who caused two turnovers and sophomore Maggie Kluemper who recorded a career-high 20 saves. 

The Titans were led by seniors Holyn Trautewin and Grace Kim, who similarly to the Panthers Hepler/Leon duo combined for nine of their goals. The Northview defense did not stop many offensive possessions. However, their defense held off the two final Panther drives as they tried to tie the game.

“I feel like the girls could not have done anything more than what they did,” head coach Mary Lehman said. “They put their entire heart out on that field.”

The game opened with the Northview senior duo scoring the first two goals putting the Titans up 2-0. It did not take long for Leon and Hepler to get started as the duo would score the first five goals of the Panthers’ eight. Leon recorded all four of her goals in the first half. The Panthers traded punches the entire half but led by one going into the break up 8-7. 

Northview once again came out with all of the momentum taking the lead with 22 minutes left in the game. Valenta and Hepler led the Panther comeback scoring three goals in three minutes. As both teams traded punches, the score was even at 12-12 with 12 minutes remaining. 

Sophomore Sunny McQuade, senior Emma Grace Hepler, and junior Siena Kamal fight for the draw control on the center circle in the semifinal round of the A-5A GHSA State Playoffs. Hepler and McQuade combined for nine total draw controls in a game where every draw was crucial. (Katie Johnson)

McDaniel and Hepler would score their final goals putting the Panthers up 14-12. In those nine remaining minutes the offense had multiple turnovers allowing Northview to score three straight goals and take the lead 15-14.

With under a minute left in the game it was the most crucial draw control of the game. The ball flew toward the Panther restraining line and McDaniel picked it up. Leon and Hepler would attempt to get a good look at the cage. Hepler had the open but hit the left pole and bounced into a Northview defender’s stick. Starr’s Mill would not get another chance to tie the game.

“We played pretty well, just Northview also played pretty well,” Hepler said. “We stayed with them the whole game, and I was very proud of the way everybody played.”

Starr’s Mill finished 11-11 overall after playing some of the toughest competition in the southeast including Creekview, Bartram Trail (FL), and Jacksonville Espicopal (FL). 

The Panthers finished as the second seed in their area. Next season GHSA will separate lacrosse into three classifications, A-4A, 5A-6A, and 7A. The Lady Panthers will enter a new area with alongside Whitewater, Trinity, and Fayette County.