- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
After clinching its eighth-straight Southern Maryland Athletic Conference girls lacrosse title with an 18-5 win over the visiting Patuxent Panthers on Friday night, the Leonardtown Raiders celebrated by posing while holding up eight fingers, four from each hand.
While it was easy for most, senior defender Blake Autry had a slight problem.
“It was actually really hard because I got a charley horse in my arm,” Autry joked about holding her celebratory pose.
And after a game against a Panthers team that came into the contest on Friday undefeated itself in conference play, Autry and her defense had every right to feel tired and sore.
Autry and goalie Adele Wise agreed that the Patuxent offense was a lot to handle and a tough test to endure en route to the title.
“They were definitely an incredible attack,” Autry said of Patuxent. “They moved really fast, cut with intensity and it was awesome to play defense against them. When they cut, they went full force and it was a really big adjustment. But, I think once we adjusted to the speed of the game, it was really nice.”
Wise, who finished with four saves, added, “They played really well. A lot of their [plays] were well organized and it was really good how they played us. It was exciting for us. They had so many strong players that there were no pinpoint players that we could have gone for. They were all well-rounded players.”
The Raiders (10-0, 10-0 SMAC) had a few well-rounded players of their own not only on the defensive end but on the offensive end of the field, as well.
Maggie Nantz, Madison Day and Abby Finkelston combined for 15 of 18 goals for the Raiders and played their respective roles in winning the SMAC title for an eighth-straight time.
Day (5 goals) scored the first two goals of the game only 2 1/2 minutes into the contest, which gave Leonardtown a quick 2-0 lead.
Fourteen seconds after Day’s second goal, Finkelston (4 goals) added her first score of the game.
Nantz led the way with a game-high six goals in the win, including her fourth goal of the first half that gave Leonardtown an 11-2 lead going into halftime.
“We expected that tonight was going to be a hard game where we were going to have to fight for everything that we earned and I think we really did that,” Autry said.
Sarah Frank, Callie Bonnel and Madison Bennett added a goal each for the Raiders in the win.
The Raiders, which also had a 17-2 win over Northern on Thursday night, play Westlake and McDonough this week to close down the regular season. The game with the Wolverines was on Tuesday, which finished too late for inclusion into this edition, with the home contest versus the Rams to be played at 5 p.m. Thursday, a makeup from a Monday postponement.
Autry and the Raiders know what it will take to continue its success through the playoffs.
“I think to just keep up the same intensity,” Autry explained. “We have to go into practices with the same intensity that we come into games with. We have to just keep working hard to better ourselves.”
Patuxent head coach Anthony Barone praised his team as a whole, noting in particular goalie Megan Brien, who finished with seven saves in the loss.
“She is only a sophomore and she hasn’t played much this year,” Barone said. “I told her on Thursday that we were playing Leonardtown and that anything can happen in this game and that we were going to pull out all of the stops and this could be your chance. When I put her in there, she stepped up to the occasion.” Kelsey Stack finished with a hat trick for the Panthers (9-1, 9-1) and Dana King added two goals in a loss that Barone believes his team gained some confidence in their performance.
“[Leonardtown] plays a different level and that’s the level we’re trying to get to,” Barone said. “For the playoffs, we need this experience and with the teams we play in regions, they are going to be that level. We have a couple of weeks to get there.”
Patuxent hosted Calvert on Tuesday night, a game that also finished too late for inclusion into this edition, and will be at Huntingtown to wrap up the regular season at 6:30 p.m. Friday.