Girls lacrosse: Centaurus braces for offensive explosion

Centaurus’ Emma Lazaroff, the state’s leader in goals and points, will lead the Warriors against Thompson Valley and the second-leading scorer in the state, Maggie Mawhinney, in the opening game of the state tournament.

Granted, lacrosse is a team game, and the Centaurus Warriors will need contributions from everyone in their lineup in order to make a run at the final four.

That said, for fans of remarkable individual skills and high scoring offenses, perhaps no tournament opener offers as much intrigue as the Warriors’ showdown against Thompson Valley.

Centaurus was awarded the No. 5 seed when the girls lacrosse state tournament bracket was released on Monday, setting up a duel between the top two scorers in the state — Centaurus’ Emma Lazaroff and Thompson Valley’s Maggie Mawhinney.

As of Monday afternoon, the date and time of the match was still being finalized, although it likely will be played on Thursday or Friday.

“With Maggie and Emma, those are definitely two high-scoring individuals,” Centaurus coach Genny Horning said. “It will be a good matchup and an interesting one for sure.”

The Duke-bound Lazaroff has established a new state record with 123 goals, and the senior also leads the state with 155 points.

Mawhinney, who will be joining the upstart program at USC, ranks second in the state in goals (91) and points (138). Mawhinney does have an edge on Lazaroff in assists, having tallied a state-best 47, and it is that play-making ability that concerns Horning the most.

“Denying her the ball is going to be important for us,” Horning said. “She drives a lot and feeds a lot. Our defense will really have to be focused on her, but you still have to worry about the rest of their team.”

Centaurus takes an 11-4 mark into the tournament opener against the 12th-seeded Eagles, losing their four games by narrow margins against the teams that received the top four seeds in the tournament — top-seeded Cherry Creek, Kent Denver, Air Academy, and Regis Jesuit.

Regis, the No. 4 seed, is a potential quarterfinal round opponent for the Warriors if they get past Thompson Valley.

“Being No. 5 in the state is something to be proud of,” Horning said. “I think with a couple of those losses that we had early helped us fix a few things that we needed to fix. I like how we’ve been coming together, and we’re playing strong and with confidence.”

Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07