Marcus Whitman girls lacrosse coach Donovan Lopez called a time out late in the second half of the Section 5 Class C finals, as his team clung to a narrow lead against Geneva. The Panthers had the momentum and looked to be mounting a comeback.
“They’re going to play hard until the final whistle and we need to match that,” Lopez told his girls. “We need to go over there and get that trophy.”
The top-seeded Wildcats did just that, holding on to beat third-seeded Geneva 7-5 Wednesday at Penn Yan Academy. It’s Marcus Whitman’s first girls lacrosse championship.
Senior Megan Robson, who has played four years of varsity lacrosse, described the feeling as “amazing.”
“Ever since day one of practice this season, this has been our goal, to go to sectionals and win titles,” she said.
Whitman went through a long season to get to this point, playing only three true home games due to poor field conditions. There was a stretch of nearly three weeks in April where the Wildcats didn’t play a game.
“I feel we pushed through every single thing no matter what,” goalie Claudia Coleates said. “We just worked and did what we had to do. We compromised for what we don’t have and worked hard no matter what and that’s what it takes to do this.”
The Wildcats’ offense came out firing on all cylinders, with Molly Gray tallying the first three goals. Nelli O’Donnell and Robson found the back of the net to make it 5-0 midway through the first half.
“It was a team effort and that’s really what made the difference,” Gray said. “We’re a family and we played like it.”
Geneva’s Taylor Racicot and Carly Rolph each scored goals, but Gray setup Hannah Barnett for a score with eight minutes left. Rolph scored her second goal to make it 6-3 going into halftime.
The Panthers dominated the first 13 minutes of the second half, preventing the Wildcats from escaping their side of the field. However, Geneva didn’t score a goal during the stretch due to the stellar play of Coleates.
“Even when she’s not saving the ball, she’s getting people where they belong,” Lopez said. “Claudia carried us a long way. She’s one of the best goalies in Section 5 and you saw it tonight.”
Robson extended Whitman’s lead off a nice pass from Sierra Albert with 11:51 to play.
Rolph and Emily Hogan scored 25 seconds apart to make it a two-goal game with 1:55 to play, but the Wildcats were able to gain control of the ball and run out the clock.
Whitman (18-1) faces Amherst (12-4), the Section 6 champion, in the Western Regionals at 3 p.m. Saturday at Spencerport High School.
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