The Starr’s Mill Lady Panthers are so close to a lacrosse championship they can taste it. They continued their dominant postseason Wednesday night with a 19-2 rout of the Fellowship Christian Paladins in the semifinals to advance to the title game for the second straight season.
The Paladins came into the game with a sparkling 17-1 record, but they were no match for the Panthers, who have outscored the opposition in the playoffs by a lopsided 79-21 margin.
Starr’s Mill wasted no time grabbing momentum, notching goals from Alyssa Angelo, Ansley Wallace, and Emma Grace Hepler for a 3-0 lead. Building on the hot start, Ryanne King took over, scoring three straight goals for a hat trick in the game’s first 12 minutes.
Angelo added a pair of her own to complete her first-half hat trick, and Starr’s Mill led 8-0 with 11 minutes still left in the first half.
Panther keeper Karlee Jenks wasn’t called on to make many stops, but she was ready in net when needed. She held the Paladins scoreless for the first 16 minutes and then kept them off the scoreboard again until into the second half.
Responding to Fellowship’s first goal, King ripped off three more strikes to give herself six first-half goals. Maddie Kross and Jessica Deluca joined the scoring parade as the Panthers went into the break with a commanding 13-1 advantage.
They kept up the pressure with two quick goals, courtesy of Wallace and Angelo, in the first three minutes of the second half. Fellowship scored once more with under 20 minutes left, but the Panthers kept the pedal to the floor, using Kross, Wallace, Angelo, and King goals to seal up the 19-2 victory.
King paced the Panthers with 7 goals, followed by Angelo with 5, Wallace with 3, Kross with 2, and Hepler and Deluca with one apiece.
Now, the Lady Panthers take aim at the state championship on Saturday where they face the Blessed Trinity Titans at Kennesaw State in a rematch of last year’s title game. Last season, the Titans, who are coming off a 15-5 win over McIntosh in the semifinals, bested Starr’s Mill for the crown, 15-7.
Head coach Mary Lehman likes her team’s chances at sweet revenge this time around.
“Honestly, I think we just need to keep doing what we’re doing right now. Throughout the season we’ve improved in every single game, and I think we’re at the point where we just have minor details we need to work on,” she said. “We’re just going to continue with what we’re doing. Obviously it’s working.”
To see more photos, click here.