Mars girls lacrosse drops WPIAL title game, 17-6
MOON TWP — It appeared early on as if the WPIAL Class 2A girls lacrosse championship bout was going to be a back-and-forth battle.
Chartiers Valley’s Juliana Betts and Mars’ Charlotte Stamper traded a pair of goals in the initial few minutes before the wheels fell off for the Planets. Second-seeded Mars never led in what ended up a 17-6 defeat at Robert Morris University’s Joe Walton Stadium Wednesday afternoon.
Mars (14-4) watched as the Colts notched seven unanswered markers — starting with Betts’ third in less than four minutes — and built an insurmountable six-score lead.
“They had a couple big wins, so we expected them to come out firing,” Planets coach Abby Zorrilla said. “They just wanted it more than us tonight. They outplayed us.”
The barrage of goals was reminiscent of the way that fifth-seeded Chartiers Valley got out of the gate in their semifinal meeting with Blackhawk on Monday. The Colts (15-2) came out on top of that one, 20-9.
“I knew that once we had the first few goals, our nerves settle in, and then we just play our game,” Chartiers Valley coach Melissa Moran said. “We just got comfortable in moving the ball and finding the back of the net.”
Mars’ McKenna Merritt got on the board with 14:00 to play in the opening half, breathing at least a little life into her team. The Planets sought to get things rolling and dig out of their hole.
“We have to control the ball, get it on attack, and keep scoring,” Zorrilla said. “That was going to be our plan.”
The Colts threw a wrench into that, responding to Merritt’s strike with two of their own. They carried a 10-3 advantage into halftime.
“I told them to fight,” Zorrilla said. “(That) they were going to have to want it more. They were going to have to fight all over the field — defense, midfield, and attack — in order to win this game.”
Kellen Fletcher and Zoey Krock pulled the Planets within five with scores out of the break, but the effort wasn’t enough. Chartiers Valley poured in seven of the contest’s last eight goals.
“I was a little concerned (with) two goals in about two, three minutes,” Moran said. “I told the girls, ‘You know, anything can happen. There’s a lot of time.’”
The Colts raised the trophy after knocking off the top two seeds in the WPIAL bracket — both of whom they were dispatched by in the regular season. Betts, a freshman, wound up with a game-high seven goals and added three assists. She recorded eight goals in the semis.
“Our nerves, as far as who we’re playing — the Blackhawks, the Marses, the top teams of the section — started to just melt away, really after the Upper St. Clair win (on May 9),” she said. “(It) boosted our confidence knowing we could hang with the big dogs.”
Mars will try to rebound in the state tournament. They’ll play on the road following the loss.
“We’re still strong,” Zorrilla said. “We can keep going.”