Sabres fall to Mallards in ESIAC championship
Worcester jumps ahead by five goals, holds off SSPP’s surges to net fourth straight title
Worcester 16 — SSPP 12
BERLIN — In weather more suited for waterfowl than humanity on Tuesday afternoon, the team called the Mallards prevailed.
Worcester Preparatory School’s girls’ lacrosse team scored the game’s first three goals, and built a five-goal cushion before weathering a pair of surges en route to defeating Saints Peter and Paul 16-12 for its fourth straight Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference championship.
“Yeah, this has definitely been a rainy spring,” Worcester second-year head coach Leigh Flounlacker. “So it’s something we’ve not been unused to. But the girls played through it, and did a great job.
“We’ve had a great group of girls this year, really every year I’ve been with the team,” Flounlacker added. “They’ve put so much effort into this, and kept it up all year . ... With the weather we’ve had, I’ve said a lot of times this year, ‘It’s a good day to be a Mallard.’ They handled it really well.”
Despite losing two of the first three draw controls, Worcester (13-4) took advantage of a pair of turnovers to take possession. Within five minutes of the opening whistle, the hosts had built a 3-0 lead.
Kate Sovero, who led the Sabres (12-6) with four goals, got her team on the board with her first score coming in the game’s sixth minute. Sarah Bradley pulled Sts. Peter & Paul within one goal at 3-2, with a score three minutes later.
But the Mallards replied within 90 seconds, something they did four times in the first half, and three more in the second.
Julie Talbert, whose seven goals and two assists were game-highs, took a feed from Grace Tunis (two goals) and slung one into the net to make it 4-2.
Megan Hickey, named ESIAC CoPlayer of the Year after the game with Worcester’s Leigh Lingo, made it a one-goal game again moments later, though, scoring off an assist by Taylor Quade to make it 4-3.
Tunis, assisted by Talbert, responded with a goal to make it 5-3, and Talbert, with a hand from Lingo, pushed the Mallards’ lead to 6-3.
Karlie Southcomb (four goals) scored at the 11:34 mark, making it 7-3, Mallards, and Talbert struck again just over a minute later to put the Sabres in a five-score hole.
Sovero cut the deficit to 8-4 with her second goal. But Lingo, running around the circle from the right side, made a highlight-reel play, as she lost her balance on the wet ground, fired
and landed in the mud as the ball skipped into the net for a 9-4 lead. The Mallards led 10-5 at halftime.
Down five goals at intermission, Sts. Peter & Paul head coach Mike Morse emphasized draw control and ball possession.
“That was the key to it,” Morse said. “I think we did a little better job in the second half, but it came down to not having enough of both. Worcester did.
“I think early on, we won a couple of draws [but] had some turnovers, that led to a couple of goals — but in the end of the day we had to have draw controls and ball possession,” Morse added. “Worcester doesn’t really turn the ball over, so we had to do a lot of work to gain possession, [and] make good shots.”
The halftime pep talk worked. Winning the draw again after the break, the Sabres rallied.
Caroline Murphy scored off a Sovero pass to make it 10-6 with just under a minute into the second half. By the 20:20 mark, Madi Marciniak (two goals), Sovero, and Quade had each notched scores, pulling the Sabres with 10-9.
Worcester’s riposte to the Sabres’ thrust, though, was of equal strength.
Talbert scored at the 14:58 mark. Lingo struck 19 seconds later. Talbert and Southcomb added goals in succession to make it 14-9 with just under 12 minutes left.
“We were really hyped coming out in the second half, and sometimes you get a little too excited,” Flounlacker said. “And Saints Peter and Paul came out and played really well after halftime.
“We just had to settle down and do what we’ve been doing,” Flounlacker added. “And they did that. They’ve been doing it all season.”
Though the Sabres outscored their hosts 3-2 down the stretch, Worcester kept the game out of reach thereafter.
Despite the loss, Morse was already looking forward to next season.
“We lose three seniors,” Morse said. “We’re still pretty young overall. I think we can come back next year and we can play pretty well then, too.”
Notes: Worcester outshot the Sabres 24-15 . ... Also named to the ESIAC All-Conference team were honorablemention recipients Suzi Ford, Joey Smith, and Alice Agee from The Gunston School and Sts. Peter and Paul’s Julia D’Albora and Kelly Hertelendy; second-team players Brennan Paddy and Heidi Barcus from Gunston and SSPP’s Sovero, Marciniak, and Brittany Ransom; and first-team honorees Hickey, Quade, Murphy, and Jennifer Douglas, along with Gunston’s Abigail Barcus and Nelly Stup.
The Saints Peter and Paul High girls’ lacrosse team shared the regular-season ESIAC title with Worcester Prep by going 3-1 against conference foes. The team finished as runner-up in the conference playoffs Tuesday, losing 16-12 to Worcester Prep.
Queen Anne’s County’s Taylor Sheppard drives to the goal defended by Kent County’s Katie Jones (12) and Kayla Luhn (8) at Washington College, Tuesday evening.