WILMINGTON – Ursuline withstood a surge by Tower Hill as the second half opened and advanced in the girls’ lacrosse state tournament with a 14-8 win on May 19. The Raiders scored six of seven goals during a second-half run to take the win on a rainy morning in Wilmington.
Three goals in a two-and-a-half-minute span late in the first half pushed the third-seeded Raiders to a 6-2 lead at the break at Richardson Field. The game, moved from the grass at Serviam Field to No. 10 Tower’s home turf because of days of rain, was trending in Ursuline’s direction. But the Hillers refused to give in.
Annie Malatesta won the opening faceoff of the second half and sprinted downfield, beating Raiders goalkeeper Brigid Monahan low. Lucy Nace went to a spin move on a free-position shot 29 seconds later, cutting the Ursuline lead to 6-4. Both of those goals came while the Hillers were shorthanded, having lost a player to a penalty in the final seconds of the first half.
Tower keeper Parker Brown made a big save when the Raiders took possession, and it paid off at the other end. Maggie Bailer was cutting across the crease and took a pass, and her goal cut the deficit to a single goal with 22:46 to go in the contest.
“When they scored three on us in the second half, we were worried, but I think we were just breaking down,” the Raiders’ Katie Shroyer said. “On two of their goals, we were man up, so that was really an issue for us. But once we started talking and getting our things together on defense, we started winning draws and then the offense started scoring and the momentum just went our way after that.”
The Raiders’ coaches chose not to use a timeout, and their players figured things out. Lexi Goff found a seam in the Hillers’ defense and scored far side at the 21:03 mark, Caroline Knight got another one back a minute later after taking a pass from Katie Shroyer.
Tower Hill answered, but it took only 10 seconds for Jane Lyons to bounce one in after winning the draw. Lyons scored again on a bouncer, restoring the four-goal lead Ursuline had enjoyed at the half.
The Raiders weren’t done. Moira Carroll connected on two free-position opportunities within a minute, and after Taylor Stenz added her third of the game for the Hillers, the Raiders capitalized on a turnover to score again. This time, Carroll took a pass from Shroyer and was all alone in front of Brown.
Lilly Rice of Ursuline and Tower’s Sarah Zungailia traded goals late in the half for the final margin.
Lyons said controlling the draw and the ground balls was critical in the victory.
“Yeah, obvoiusly the big factor in this game was who was winning the draws, they were going down and scoring. I think in order to change that, to make it in our favor, we really just had to pick up the energy and keep that consistent,” she said.
Lyons, Carroll and Shroyer each scored three times for the Raiders, who improved to 14-2. They will play the winner of No. 7 Newark Charter vs. No. 2 St. Mark’s, which was scheduled for Saturday until the rain got in the way. The Patriots and Spartans are now scheduled to meet Monday at a site and time to be determined. The semifinal with Ursuline is currently set for Tuesday, also at a site and time to be announced.
The Raiders defeated Newark Charter on May 2.
“They’re a very strong team. They were winning draws; they’re very athletic,” Shroyer said.
St. Mark’s defeated the Raiders by three on April 17. Lyons said a strong start is imperative should the Raiders meet the Spartans.
“The first five minutes of St. Mark’s we were caught off-guard. We were really playing reactive instead of trying to control the game. If we play them again, I think the big thing would be starting early, getting control early and having as much energy as possible.”
Stenz had three goals for the Hillers, while Nace had two. They finished the season at 11-6.
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Archmere, the tournament’s fourth seed, advanced to the semifinals with a 12-9 win over No. 5 Polytech in Claymont. The Auks took a commanding 8-1 lead by halftime, but the Panthers fought their way back into contention. Kate Olsen led the Auks with four goals, while Caroline Donovan and Sydney Yanick added a pair each.
The Auks (13-3) will play top-seeded Cape Henlopen on Tuesday at a site and time to be announced. The Vikings advanced with an 18-3 win over No. 8 Padua in Lewes.
Padua got two goals from Rachel Delate and one from Ava Ruggieri. The Pandas finished with a 10-6 record.