Starr’s Mill sweeps opening round of LAX playoffs

Freshman Hannah Leon was a key cog in a dominant offensive showing for the Lady Panthers. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

by Riley Hicks

On a Wednesday night full of playoff action, Starr’s Mill lacrosse cruised into the second round with two dominating performances. Both the girls and boys offenses were seemingly unstoppable, and between the two matchups the Panther defenses only allowed one ball to go into the back of the net. The girls and boys each won their games by double-digit margins.

The Lady Panthers spread the wealth with five girls tallying hat tricks as they outscored the Woodland Wolfpack 20-1. The offense was able to keep possession the majority of the game and kept the ball in Wolfpack territory. Starr’s Mill now prepares to take on Holy Innocents in the second round next week.

“They put in a lot of hustle with a lot of movement and fast ball movement, which we need moving forward,” said head coach Mary Lehman. “We can’t get relaxed on the field. They’ve got to constantly keep that ball and their feet moving.”

At just over five minutes into the game, the Panthers broke out to a 5-0 lead. Emma Helper got her team on the board, followed by Kerry Cronin with the assist to Ansley Wallace for yet another goal. Ryanne King scored back-to-back goals with the help of Maddie Kross on her second. Following her assist, Kross converted a score of her own to make the game 5-0.

As the Panther defense continued a shutdown performance through the first half, the offense rolled onward. With 11:19 left in the first, Starr’s Mill led 11-0. In two straight scores, King assisted Kross and Hannah Leon to put her team up 7-0. Going at the goalkeeper all alone, Leon put another ball in the net, and following behind that were Helper, Jacqueline Broderick, and Leon yet again for the hat trick.

Woodland finally found a break late in the first half and broke the shutout with a score from Jacklynn Lambert with 4:18 left. Wallace quickly answered back with her second goal off an assist from Caroline Andrews to close the half at 12-1.

In the second half, even with a running clock, the offense remained unstoppable as they scored nine unanswered goals to close out the game. The first score of the half came from Broderick, then Helper, Wallace, and King in just the first 10 minutes of the second half. In the final 15 minutes, the Panthers got goals from Jessica DeLuca, Kross off a penalty, Briley Kalen, and to cap the night was Kathryn Lehman. When it was all said and done, Starr’s Mill had Wallace, Leon, Kross, King, and Helper each score hat tricks.

Even with a game that looked to have no mistakes or errors on the side of the Panthers, Lehman still believes some things need to be fixed as her team continues their journey in the playoffs.

“We need to work a little bit on our communication on the field amongst the girls on both defense and offense,” she said. “It’s just the little things that we need to work on.”

 

Christian Sparkman fires off a shot with Landon Clayton in defense.

In the boys game, the Panthers got to host a longtime rival from down the road in the Whitewater Wildcats. Just like their counterparts, the boys made quick work on offense in the first half and cruised to a 11-0 win. They now travel to take on Benedictine in the second round.

“We did a good job of not turning the ball over,” said head coach Jeff Schmidlkofer. “Whitewater has done a great job and (Coach Nick Castagna) has brought the program a long way. We just got to do a better job of getting more guys involved and scoring more goals.”

As powerful as the offense has been for the Panthers this season, the team didn’t really break open the game until the second period. In the first quarter, Starr’s Mill only scored three goals against the Wildcats. The first came at the 10:40 mark with an assist from Luke Rusterucci to Gabe Lopez for the goal. Lopez follow his score by assisting Cameron Herd for another score three minutes later. To close the quarter, Rusterucci got his first goal of the night.

The Panthers continued to dominate possession in the second quarter and converted six more unanswered scores against the Wildcat defense. Lopez quickly got his second goal with a score at the 9:58 mark, and following that was an assist from Rusterucci to Herd to go up 5-0. In the final seven minutes of the first half, Rusterucci scored twice, while Lopez and Herd each score one more goal to put their team up 9-0 going into the half. With only 24 minutes played in the game, these three men each already had a hat tricks.

The Wildcats tried to form some sort of offensive momentum, but with Rhett Jones and his defense leading the way, along with strong goaltending from Derek Saylor, the Panthers kept Whitewater scoreless the entire match. Starr’s Mill also won 10 of 11 faceoffs on the evening with Garrett Meuninck at the helm for the Panthers.

With a change at goalie for the Wildcats and a tightening up of their defense, they only allowed two scores in the second half. The first in the third by Colin Smith, and Smith was able to add one late in the fourth quarter to give his team the 11-0 win.

Starr’s Mill looks to clean up a few things as they head to face the top seeded Benedictine.

“It’s like I told the guys we looked tired,” said Schmidlkofer. “We needed to make sure against good teams we play better than that. It’s the playoffs and the guys who pay attention to detail will win it.”

 

To see more photos, click here.

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