Wahconah girls lacrosse sees off Lunenburg to advance to Central/West D-II quarterfinals

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DALTON — The messages at halftime can make all the difference in a game.

With the Wahconah girls lacrosse team leading Lunenburg at the break in a MIAA Central/West Division II first-round game, the No. 8 Warriors came out of the intermission on a mission to put the game away. They did just that, putting up the first five goals of the half en route to a 13-5 win over the No. 9 Blue Knights.

The Warriors dished the ball around in the win, with six different girls scoring. In the second half, four girls scored in the opening flurry to make sure there would be no upset in Dalton.

"I said to them, a lot of times we have come out in the second half and haven't executed and have let teams back in, and then it gets to a frantic pace," Wahconah coach Kathy Budaj said. "We maintained composure. It was hot. I told them they had to take care of the ball. Because, when you get into that running game, it's tough."

Emmy Cote and Lily Howes each had hat tricks in the win, while Cote also had three assists. Jordan Budaj scored two goals and chipped in with three helpers to pace the Warriors.

Lunenburg scored the first goal of the game, but then shipped the next six. Wahconah answered Alizah Raboin's opener within a minute when Howes scored her first, and goals by Cote and another from Howes gave the Warriors some room to work with.

Wahconah built its lead up to 6-1 on a goal from Kenna McIlquham — assisted by Cote — before the sides exchanged two goals each to send everyone into the break with the Warriors up 7-3.

There was no exchanging of goals, however, when the second half kicked off.

Under a minute in, Cote set up Perin Genaway for a goal, and two minutes later Jordan Budaj set up a Hannah Rueger tally. From there, the ball kept finding the back of the net for Wahconah.

"We started passing and connecting really well and it just kept going throughout the whole half," Cote said of the barrage. "I really think once that second half started, those first few passes as we were connecting on the first few goals really got us going again."

Lunenburg's Olivia Kelley tried to make things difficult for the Warriors by stopping 12 shots in the loss, but even a bit of heroics from the goalie could not stop what was eventually coming.

"[Kelley] was really good at stepping out, and we usually just slide it right by [a goalie], but she stepped out so she'd block it every single time," Cote said of trying to figure out how to score. "We came together and said 'fake the first time, just communicate, you can go over her if you fake.' It was just a bunch of team communication today."

The win sends Wahconah into the quarterfinals and a date with No. 1 Bromfield. The Warriors are aware that a test awaits them in the 16-3 top seed, but they are ready to meet it head-on.

"I think we really just need to stick together as a team right now and get our confidence up," Cote said. "Our passing — keep it connected now, and I think we are all very excited for it. I think that's a good thing, a positive."

Raboin led Lunenburg with three goals in the loss. Katie Bachli had seven saves in the win.

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Lunenburg goals — Alizah Raboin 3, Kylie Hill 1, Jessie Vancelette 1. Lunenburg assists — Molly Masciarali 1.

Wahconah goals — Lily Howes 3, Emmy Cote 3, Jordan Budaj 2, Perin Genaway 2, Kenna McIlquham 2, Hannah Rueger 1. Wahconah assists — Budaj 3, Cote 3.

Saves — G: Olivia Kelley 12. W: Katie Bachli 7.

Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6254.


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