Maryland lax teams battle into overtime
EDWARDS – Anyone in doubt that female lacrosse players from Maryland are born with lacrosse sticks already in hand should have watched the Vail Lacrosse Shootout High School U-19 Girls finals Tuesday. Vail Shootout 2004 defending champion, M & D Lax, took on tournament newcomer Rome in a final game that didn’t let up until M & D held onto the ball while under fire in overtime for the 10-9 victory.From the first draw, the two Baltimore teams simply would not give an inch. After the first five minutes of intensive midfield connections and turnovers, one save from M&D goalie Sara Beckstead, Rome put the first goal in the net. It looked for a minute as if Rome was going to take dominance until M&D’s Janna Faulkner intercepted a pass that she pitched off to Lauren Catalano, who put it in the goal to mark the first of many instances of evening up the score from both sides.
“We knew it was going to be as good game,” said Beckstead, who was playing her first season with M&D. “We knew we would make it to the finals. We were ready.”Both high school clubs are renowned for shipping off all of their graduates to the country’s top-notch Division I university lacrosse programs.”We’ve always wanted to beat them,” said M&D wing Erica Baumgartner, who made the tying goal before overtime and went on to capture the next draw, followed by goal No. 1 in OT.”We’ve had this rivalry,” she said of M&D and Rome. “Since our first day here, all we could talk about was how much we wanted to beat Rome.”The teams’ two different playing styles became obvious immediately. While Rome’s attack was quick, favoring fastbreaks and instant shots in front of the goal, M&D took a lot more time with each point, setting up its attack around the fan and waiting for an opening.
“We knew that Rome was a very intense team,” Catalano said. “We knew we had to get into our set offense and spread it out and be calm and confident. I think we did that. That’s what gave us the win.”While the set offense occasionally drew a three-second violation or a dangerous check foul out of Rome, eventually giving M&D a 6-4 lead, the biggest gap all game, Rome, with its aggressive shots, fast feet and quick passes, never gave in.”We had scrimmaged them earlier, on the first day, and we knew that we had to spread the ball and if we had enough space, we could attack the goal and do a lot of draw and dumps that way,” Baumgartner said. “We knew we had a bunch of sets, and every time we threw the ball out (of the fan around the goal) and moved it, we were able to score right away.”Not accepting the two-point deficit, Rome launched into a scoring extravaganza of its own. Kelly Burgoyne put in a free shot. Then, Molly Ford spun a grounder into the net, followed by Jenna Block shooting one into the high-corner for her team to retake the lead, 7-6, until Baumgartner tied it up at the end of regulation.She followed up with another shot at the beginning of overtime, which her teammate Jessica Strugill backed up with another. Rome’s Kim Dubansky finally took possession of the ball for a fastbreak and assist, and it looked as though her team might come back for another draw until M&D intercepted and did what it does best until the clock ran out – held onto the ball.
“We had to work as a team,” Catalano said. “We all worked together and we pulled it off.”Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado