Red Raiders build leads of 6-0 and 13-2 in Tuesday's championship game against Penn Yan
PITTSFORD — It’s about context, really.
Yes, the Palmyra-Macedon girls lacrosse team has just five wins all-time against Penn Yan. But three of those victories have come in the last two seasons.
The latest? A thorough, decisive and sound thumping of the Mustangs, 16-5 on Tuesday evening. The Red Raiders got it started just 23 seconds after the opening draw at Pittsford Sutherland’s Ordiway Field and never took their foot off the gas in winning the Section V Class D championship, the first in school history.
“I could just feel it in the air tonight that we would come out and pound it,” said senior Aldyn Savage, who had two goals and two assists for the Red Raiders. “It’s so relieving. We’ve been waiting so long for this.”
Now, back to that context. Yes, Tuesday’s win gives the No. 2 seed Red Raiders (16-3) their first Section V title in girls lacrosse. But that’s not really the wait to which Savage is referring.
What’s on the mind of Savage and many others on the team is last year’s Section V final in which the Red Raiders lost to Honeoye Falls-Lima. It was Pal-Mac’s first appearance in a Section V final, but that didn’t lessen the pain any.
“They’ve been hungry all offseason,” said Pal-Mac coach E.J. Burse. “And right away, I could see the motivation of this team.”
As such, Pal-Mac was not about to squander the opportunity in front of it when it found itself back in the final this spring. And as such, the Red Raiders went to work quickly.
Savage got Pal-Mac on the board just seconds into the game and before No. 4 Penn Yan (12-7) scored its first goal nearly 15 minutes in, Pal-Mac already had goals from Anna Leva, Emma Arnold, Abby Halsey, Andra Savage and Makenzie Storto. So it was a 6-0 lead before the Mustangs scored their first and and after Sydney Bloom made it a 6-2 game, the Red Raiders closed the first half with a seven-goal run for a 13-2 halftime lead.
It was Jamie Walker’s third goal of the game, with 2:52 left in the first half, that put the running game clock into motion.
So, about that start?
“We didn’t get too confident,” said Burse. “There was a lot of lacrosse left … anything can happen.”
Senior goalie Sophia Leva had a pretty good view of the overpowering offensive performance. And of course she was thrilled, but she reminded her defensive teammates that the big lead didn’t mean their job was done.
“It’s easy to watch the offense do that,” said Leva, who made six saves in earning Class D MVP honors. “But we have to stay prepared, stay focused and be ready.”
But by now, there was no question that this was Pal-Mac’s day. The teams combined for six goals, three each, in the second half and the the final minutes were a mere formality.
“Last year, it was our first experience and we didn’t know things like the pace of the game,” said Savage. “But this year, we were more prepared and determined.”
Arnold finished with a team-high four goals and four assists, and Andra Savage had four goals and two assists. Jamie Walker scored four, Anna Leva had one goal and three assists and Halsey scored one goal.
The victory was the culmination of a journey so many champions take, learning to endure the heartache of losing a trophy that was within grasp before finally being able to hoist it. It’s also a significant step for the program as a whole, said Burse.
“It feels validating,” he said. “It’s nice to get the title and validate all the hard work.”
Pal-Mac plays in the Class D state quarterfinals on Saturday in Buffalo against a team to be determined.