Cardinal Gibbons’ girls lacrosse team used a high-pressure defense and an even scoring attack to smother Athens Drive in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association girls lacrosse playoffs Friday, 20-5.
With the win, the Crusaders ended the career of Athens Drive senior Madeline Bromley, one of the top scorers in the area. Bromley scored four of the five Jaguars’ goals (Elizabeth Ray scored the other), but Gibbons had more firepower from beginning to end.
“Our game plan coming in was to execute what we’ve been working on all season and our offensive motion,” Crusaders’ head coach Patricia Alexander said. “Really we were hoping to start to peak right about now, in the playoffs.”
It was without a doubt a peak performance by Gibbons (17-1).
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Six different players scored goals for the Crusaders, who jumped out to a 13-point first-half lead. When Gibbons wasn’t finding the back of the net, they were harassing the Jaguars with an aggressive defense.
After Athens Drive struck first, a goal from Bromley at the 24:14 mark, Gibbons responded with an 8-1 run, getting goals from Erica Skowron (2), Jordan Lappin, Sarah Boney (2), Morgan Winstead (2) and Sarah Comstock.
Before the Jags (9-7) knew what hit them, they were down seven before they found the back of net again, a goal from Bromley at the 13:41 mark. Cardinal Gibbons answered with another scoring onslaught, ending the half on a 5-1 run, getting more goals from Skowron, Lappin (2), Boney and Elizabeth Wilson.
The Crusaders had no trouble scoring, but the most impressive aspect of their game was on the defensive end, where they hardly allowed the Jaguars any room to breath.
“We have three types of defenses we run, one of them was more high pressure,” Alexander said. “I wanted to challenge our girls so we can see where our weaknesses and strengths are. They executed really well. Our defense has come together, so it’s nice to see that at this part of the season. We completely saw it today, which was nice.”
Alexander was hesitant to say she was surprised with how well it all clicked for her team against Athens Drive.
“You just never know,” Alexander said. “Sometimes with these playoff games you have these high expectations. Athens Drive is a really strong team and they have a lot of strong players. We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy fight, for sure.”
Jags coach Emily Smith repeatedly told her team how proud she was of the group. Smith took over the program late into the tryout process, and was happy they were even in position to play the postseason.
“We weren’t sure there was going to be a season,” said Smith, who took over the second day of tryouts. “To see them go through so much adversity and get this far, they were never expected to do this. They are a great group of girls and we had the most fun figuring this all out together.”
Bromley, who is headed to Coastal Carolina in the fall to play lacrosse, finishes the season with 102 goals and more than 215 goals for her career.
“I feel like I worked my hardest all season,” Bromley said. “Even though we may not have made it as far as we wanted, the entire team left everything on the field today.”
Gibbons will take on Broughton, who Alexander coached last year, in the next round.