Westwood outlasts Medfield down the stretch

MEDFIELD, Mass. -- For a while, we were looking at possibly uncharted territory. Then in a flash, it became business as usual.

With 20 minutes left in this girls lacrosse contest between the Tri-Valley League's two top stalwarts, Medfield closed juggernaut No. 1 Westwood's lead to one goal on a beautiful setup by its top attacker. Then the Wolverines flicked a switch, seemingly like they've done all season long, scoring six unanswered goals in the final 13 minutes to win going away, 13-6.

The Wolverines (13-0) are used to a high-octane style of play, having scored at least 14 or more goals in all of their wins this season. And with under four minutes to go in the first half, after dominating possession for much of the earlygoings, they showed off their scoring flair, rolling off three goals in a span of 1:12 -- two of them from junior Laura McHoul (four goals, assist) -- for a 6-2 lead.

But the Warriors (9-2) got a quick one just before the half, an Ally Slowe feed from star senior Katie Ott, and cut Westwood's lead to 6-5 when Kate Wasley took an Ott pass, curled around the back of the net to the left post and beat goalie Ann Lalley to the far side. Five minutes later, Katelyn Nochese again cut the Westwood lead to one, 7-6, taking a feed five yards in front of the net after Abby McQuillan took a ground ball 30 yards out.

"I think just primarily, we were playing scared, because it was a close game," Westwood head coach Leslie Frank said. "And we were playing basically not to attack the goal. People were shooting three to four shots and not scoring, so they were kinda getting timid. We can't ever allow that to happen. I told them we were defending well, and trapping well, so keep that up, and just kinda fix the offense."

Said junior Kate Rich, "We love playing Medfield. They bring a lot of fire, lot of intensity. So I think once we settled ourselves down and played our own game, that was what really started working for us."

Oh, it fixed itself alright. With breakout passes to their speedy frontline attackers in space, numerous free position opportunities, and a series of well-executed one-timers from behind the net, the Wolverines rattled off six goals over the last 13 minutes, starting with a free position goal from Rich (six goals, two assists) and followed up with a series of points from Rich, McHoul and Johns Hopkins commit Sarah Biron (two goals, assist).

But perhaps more importantly, it was the defense on Medfield's star attack, the Boston University-bound Ott, that made the difference. Sure, at the other end goalie Sarah Honan (12 saves) was impressive in her approach to low shots -- "We still tried going with our tried and true, going low, and it wasn't working," Frank said. But the Wolverines kept a face-guard on Ott in hopes of cutting off her lanes to the goal, and forcing her into settling for entry passes. Ott finished the evening with three assists, but no goals.

"You can't ever take one player and say she's the only one who does something, but I think you have to recognize someone like Katie Ott when we play against her," Biron said. "Our defense went in there, and we wanted to force her to a bad angle. We're going to push her out, and make her make the path instead of taking the shot."