KINGSTON — Lake-Lehman had the vast majority of the possession in the final 15 minutes Monday afternoon.
Avery Conyngham and Abby Straub made sure Wyoming Seminary made the most of the time it had the ball.
Conyngham sent Straub racing up field on the way to her sixth goal with 2:39 remaining, breaking a tie and closing the scoring in the Blue Knights’ 10-9 victory in the meeting of the final two Wyoming Valley Conference girls lacrosse unbeatens.
“We didn’t do that much as coaches,” Wyoming Seminary’s Catie Kersey said. “A lot of it was the players. They just sort of looked at each other and said, ‘we need to win’.
“The ball got into our senior captain’s hands, she threw a great fake and she scored.”
Lake-Lehman rallied from four goals down after the midway point in the second half and applied pressure for the potential go-ahead score, then a chance at another tie later.
After the Black Knights scored four times in 6:07 to force the tie, Wyoming Seminary found the combination needed to recover. The Blue Knights used a clutch save by Mia Raineri in the final minute, careful containment from their defense when trapped in their own end late and the timely sprint up field by Straub to clinch at least a tie for their fifth straight WVC title.
“I think we just had to calm down,” said Kate Romanowski, who scored three goals for Wyoming Seminary. “We were getting flustered with their play and we weren’t playing our own game.”
Lake-Lehman built its comeback around draw controls, getting the ball right back and threatening immediately after each of the four goals in the rally.
The Black Knights repeated that with Katie Strohl taking the draws – the equivalent of the faceoff used in male lacrosse or ice hockey games – and Kate Roberts constantly getting to the ball when Strohl sent it into the air.
That allowed Lake-Lehman the first chance at breaking the 9-9 tie.
Wyoming Seminary came back strong despite big saves from Lake-Lehman goalie Grace Butler who made impressive stops by cradling shots from Romanowski and Camryn Litjens. Butler finished with 22 saves.
Lake-Lehman moved the ball back into its offensive side of the field before Conyngham won it back. The defender instantly moved the ball ahead to Straub, who took control on the move just short of midfield.
“Avery got the ball and I just saw that I was open so I asked for it,” said Straub, who had scored three straight Wyoming Seminary goals to erase an early 3-1 deficit and another in time to build an 8-4 halftime lead. “At that point, adrenaline and everything just kicked in. I knew the game was tied.”
Straub raced away from the one defender that trailed her, ran through open field, then approached the Lake-Lehman defense. She made a series of quick moves, barely altering a nearly direct path to the goal, moving to close range where she fired a low shot for the winner.
“There was a defender on my back and I felt her,” Straub said. “I reached my stick out and once I got it, I was legging it down the field.
“I got it down to a one-on-one, looked for the white of the net and shot it as hard as I could.”
Lake-Lehman controlled the ball deep in the Wyoming Seminary again for most of the final 90 seconds, circling the goal and making several passes, but only getting a chance to look at a possible shot twice.
Raineri made a save with 28.2 seconds left and then killed the final seconds after scooping up a ball that hit the side of the net with seven seconds left.
“All respect to the defense, they really pulled it together,” senior midfielder Alexis Sokach said.
Kersey was pleased with the way the defense recovered late.
“The last 2 ½ minutes, the clock ticks slowly,” Kersey said. “ … They could pass it around the outside. That was fine, as long as were marking our cutters, which we weren’t doing earlier; and not let them drive, which we weren’t doing earlier.
“If they want to have the ball on their stick for 2 ½ minutes that’s fine with me. Our goal was to not give them an opportunity to score.”
The Blue Knights limited those opportunities just enough to reach 11-0. They can clinch the title outright with a victory Thursday at Wyoming Area.
Wyoming Seminary has won the WVC overall or Division 1 titles each of the four previous years of the league.
Lake-Lehman (9-1) had won Division 2 championships the past two seasons before the WVC combined all teams into one league again this year.
Roberts scored three goals and assisted on two others for the Black Knights.
Abington Heights 6,
Jolene Ulichney scored two goals and Ashley Chase finished with a goal and an assist in the Crusaders’ loss.
Aly Pedik had an assist, while Raven Bozek made 10 saves for Coughlin.
Abington Heights was led by Brennan Eates’ four goals. Sidney Horvath had 11 saves.
Hazleton Area 5
Natasha Koslop scored four goals and assisted on another in the Comets’ win.
Teammate Kaitlyn Roberts added three goals and one assist and Emily Roberts finished with two assists and one goal.
Julia Filchak made eight saves in the victory.
Lexi Bohman led Hazleton Area with three goals and Meleah Hoats scored two. Brythee Barbush and Jenna Corra each had six saves.
Wyoming Area 11,
Pittston Area 7
Cassidy Orzel scored three goals and Tierney Porfirio and Amanda McCormick each scored twice for Wyoming Area. Caitlin Butchko added three assists.
Nina Cirelli scored three goals and Bailey Jordan added two more for Pittston Area.
Wyoming Seminary 10, Lake-Lehman 9
Lake-Lehman `4 `5 `–` 9
Seminary `8 `2 `–`10
SCORING – LL, Kate Roberts (3 goals, 2 assists), Jess Evans (two goals), Katie Strohl (goal), Hallie Jenkins (goal), Alicia Galasso (goal), Alexis Barker (goal). SEM, Abby Straub (6 goals, assist), Kate Romanowski (3 goals), Olivia Meuser (goal), Carly Clemente (assist). Shots – LL 21, SEM 23. SAVES – LL 12 (Grace Butler), SEM 9 (Mia Raineri).
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