WINCHESTER — The Manchester Essex girls lacrosse team knew it was in for likely its toughest game of the year yesterday.
After throttling Shawsheen in the first round of the tournament and squeaking out a close win over Cape Ann League rival Ipswich in the Division 2 North quarterfinals, the No. 4 seed Hornets were looking to extend their run with an upset win over top-seeded Winchester yesterday.
For a time, the Hornets were in a position to do just that. They dominated possession for much of the first half and kept the game within a goal until midway through the second half. From there though, the experience of the Sachems shone through.
Winchester closed the game on a 6-1 run, riding four-goal performances from Abby Wheeler and Lacey Hale and a dominant performance by goalie Hallie Stone to a 12-6 victory.
The final score, however, does little to represent how close the game really was.
“I was really proud of us, we had an awesome first half and our defense was amazing,” Hornets coach Sarah Holch said. “They just had some really nice transitions in the second half. They had some beautiful plays and they really maintained their composure. We played them before (a 17-7 loss in 2011) and we had such an amazing game this time compared to that so I’m just really proud of our team.”
Throughout yesterday’s first half, the Hornets struggled in what had developed as one of their strong suits: draw control.
The Sachems controlled six of the first half’s eight draws, establishing possession early and often.
Oddly enough, that made very little difference. The Hornets’ defense stood strong against a powerful Winchester attack and jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Olivia Lantz sparked quick transition and fed Brittany Smith for the game’s first goal.