D1 girls lax: Westwood 19, Wellesley 3

WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Two time state girls' lacrosse champions Laura McHoul and Kate Rich not only know what it takes to win a title, but showed they are ready to defend their crown this afternoon.

Battling from opposite sides of the crease, the seniors worked passing lanes and found openings all afternoon as they lead defending champs No. 3 Westwood (20-0) to the Division 1 South semifinals with a 19-3 defeat of guest No. 6 Wellesley (12-8) at Flahive Field.

The Wolverines have eliminated Wellesley from five straight postseason, while winning four of the last eight state titles.

“Laura and I have a lot of experience and we are trying to pass that

down,” said Rich. “We have a young team. One of our focuses was off ball movement and I think we did a really good job of that.”

Rich netted five and assisted three, while McHoul both tallied and assisted four.

Opening with nine straight, Westwood put an additional 15 shots on goal as it rumbled ahead early and never looked back.

Spread Out and Attack: The Wolverines look to spread out their opponents then attack the openings. Working McHoul rear of the crease and Rich up top, the seniors bobbed in and out testing isolated openings and finding horizontal passing lanes.

Rich backed up her defender and buried a shot over the keeper's shoulder in the first few seconds for the Wolverines first score, while McHoul slipped in behind the net to assist a quick flicked finish by sophomore Ela Hazar for a 9-0 lead at 9:49 in the initial half.

“Our goal is to spread it out more,” said Westwood coach Leslie Frank. “(Laura) sees openings and hits the pass well. If Kate is behind, Laura can finish.”

Push 'Em Back: Coach Frank aimed to double high and push the Raiders towards the halfway line. This defense was effective in forcing backwards offensive motion as Westwood limited Wellesley to one shot-on-goal in the first eleven minutes.

A pair of unassisted second-half tallies from freshman Caroline Bradley and junior Molly Connelly, at 7:33 and 4:23 respectively, were a brief sign of attacking life for the Raiders.

“We tried to spread them out as much as we could, but they put us under a ton of pressure,” said Wellesley first-year coach Sarah Dacey. “We knew they were going to double, so we prepared the girls for that. This is a team you have to spread out and create lanes.”

Finishing Touch: A penalty effort by junior Annie Valle to open Wellesley's scoring at 4:32 in the first was quickly squashed by eight straight from the Tri-Valley League champs.

Rich caught a pair of back net assist for two late first half goals, while twelve minutes into the second half freshman Brooke Troy buried two off penalties chances to produce a 17-1 deficit.

“We do a lot of work on draw control (which) is key to gaining the first two possessions (and) makes you feel some confidence,” said Frank. “That was the key to them executing well with confidence.”

Westwood grabbed five of the first seven draws, while finishing with a three win advantage.

Family First: Westwood faces tomorrow’s winner between No. 2 seed Notre Dame of Hingham (20-1) and No. 7 Newton North (13-5-1), with the date to be decided. A win by the Cougars would set up the first match up between Notre Dame coach Meredith Frank and mother Leslie.

“I am looking forward to it,” said Leslie Frank of the opportunity. “We try to do the right thing from the sidelines, but very little at this point happens from a coaches standpoint. It is out of both of our hands.”