RALEIGH — The Athens Drive girls’ lacrosse team wasted no time putting away visiting Middle Creek Monday night, pouring in four goals in less than three minutes to immediately establish control en route to a 17-2 victory.
The game’s outcome was never in question after the emphatic early start by the Jaguars, as they led 9-0 before Middle Creek got on the scoreboard on a goal by Holly Hite midway through the first half. In the second half, Athens experimented with different offensive sets, controlling possession and thinking pass-first.
“Maintain possession and work different people in different positions that I wouldn’t otherwise do that I might want to try out,” Athens coach Jennifer Brunsting said of her second-half strategy. “I know that we got some of our high defenders into the midfield rotation, which is really great to do.”
The win improved Athens’ record to 5-2, (3-2 Conference 2) and dropped the Mustangs to 2-5 (2-5). Both teams are set to play Tuesday before enjoying a week-and-a-half of rest thanks to Wake County’s spring break.
Putting up numbers: For the Jaguars, nine different players found the back of the net, with Stephanie Few, Kieran Garvey, Madeline Bromley and Kayla Young each recording hat tricks. Bromley and Garvey recorded two assists apiece. Olivia Chason chipped in a goal and an assist, and Sarah Hume, Colleen Kennedy, Erin Kennedy, and Sarah Wygle rounded out the scoring.
What worked: Of Athens Drive’s first eight goals, just one of them was assisted. But as the game moved along, passing become a bigger part of the attack for the Jaguars, who got assists on seven of their final nine scores. It was an example of the Jaguars’ cohesiveness, something the team lacked at times a year ago, according to Garvey.
“This year we’ve had a lot more chemistry as a team and we’ve been able to work off each other more,” Garvey said.
“A big part of how we’re playing now is we started really early in the offseason. We go to team-bonding things before games. We hang out more as a group now, rather than last year we were very separate and there was some drama on the team. This year we work more as a family and it’s really cool to see how it transfers to the field.”
Needs improvement: Middle Creek coach Rose Piccirillo was pleased with the way her team played in its season opener against Holly Springs, when Middle Creek showed crisp execution in both its passing and shooting. But as the season has progressed, the Mustangs have struggled to fire on all cylinders.
“We came out of the gates against Holly Springs and played really well,” Piccirillo said. “We were really aggressive. Since then, we haven’t really put our passing game and our shooting game all in one. We haven’t been able to bring it all back to play a complete game. We just have struggled. One thing works for us, we show signs of moving the ball around and catching well, and then we won’t play defense.”