LAFAYETTE — The Centaurus girls lacrosse team, young as it is, has learned to expect the unexpected in 2015.
Injuries have been dealt with the entire campaign, but when senior attack Sarah Myres left Monday night’s playoff game early in the second half for different reasons entirely, the Warriors had to find a way to sustain the pressure.
“It’s probably not a good idea to rely on certain people to score,” Warriors goalie Morgan Pittser said. “Her having to come out of the game was just a good way for us to adjust, even with our freshmen.”
Centaurus appropriately adjusted against Palmer Ridge in the second round of the state playoffs, and the CHS defense held the Bears well under their season scoring average in a 14-8 win on their home turf.
Myres had scored three goals and added an assist in the first half, but she was forced to leave the game early in the second half after receiving a second yellow card. Up just 7-3 at the time, the Warriors managed to find other looks and make their way into Wednesday’s quarterfinals against Mullen.
Andrea Kim scored two of her three goals in the second half, Tessa Hannigan added three goals, and Skye Bradley scored twice after the break to help keep CHS from slipping.
“We have had so many injuries and that means we’re starting a lot of freshmen, girls who have never played in the playoffs before,” said coach Robert Kline, whose team started three freshmen on offense and another pair on defense. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen, but everyone did their part and it was fun to watch.
“The other girls had to step up when Sarah went out, and they did.”
After nine days off, the Warriors (11-5) started slow on that side of the field. But the defense was on point from the beginning. Palmer Ridge, which averaged 13 goals a game in the regular season, scored just twice in the first 25 minutes thanks to heads-up play from the defensive unit.
Pittser’s collective calm in the cage was vital, too. The sophomore made several great saves at her feet, stopping six of 14 shots against on the night.
She was first to credit the return to the field of Elizabeth Wallace, a senior who has dealt with injuries this year, too.
“We just found out (Monday) that Elizabeth was coming back, and we were so happy about that,” Pittser said. “We were excited to get to play again, and especially on our home field.”
“I would say it just came down to really smart pre-game scouting,” added senior Hayley Drapkin, who also had an assist to go along with her stout play in front of Pittser. “The whole defense really watches game film, looks at who is good and learns how to shut them down even before we get out there. Today, we worked together as a unit and it all happened like it was supposed to. The slides were there.”
Another area the Warriors looked to improve was on the draws, especially after getting stunned in that category their last time out against Kent Denver. Monday, Centaurus won twice as many draws as its opponent.
That helped the Warriors build a 5-1 lead about 15 minutes into the game, and then helped secure a 13-5 advantage — their biggest lead of the game — with 5 minutes, 46 seconds remaining.
“Possession is the game, and I think we focused on that in practice well, winning the draw and holding,” Drapkin said. “We have a lot of players that are super strong (on groundballs) and I think we figured that out a bit.”
Ashley Walker scored four goals for Palmer Ridge, a team with just two seniors that finished 10-6.
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Centaurus 14, Palmer Ridge 8
At Centaurus HS
Palmer Ridge 2 6 — 8
Centaurus 7 7 — 14
Goals — Palmer Ridge: Ashley Walker 4, Mary Koch, Sam Rippley, Emily Miller, Ali Walker; Centaurus: Andrea Kim 3, Sarah Myres 3, Tessa Hannigan 3, Skye Bradley 2, Madison Hamilton 2, Delaney Pratt 1.
Assists — Palmer Ridge: Ali Walker; Centaurus: Myers 1, Bradley 1, Claire Sullivan 1, Kim 1.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Palmer Ridge: Olivia Ward (50-14-4); Centaurus: Morgan Pittser (50-8-6).