Always expect the unexpected.
Even in the second half of the season the Chagrin Falls Tigers’ girls’ lacrosse team has to be prepared to see different styles of play. Chagrin Falls’ three-game winning streak ended when it lost 11-8 to Worthington Kilbourne last Saturday afternoon at C.S. Harris Stadium.
“Worthington Kilbourne’s a great team,” said Coach Kelsey Owen. “They have a lot of solid players and are quick and aggressive. We need to play teams like that to get better. The girls gave it everything they had and we definitely have some things to work on that Kilbourne exploited on the offensive and defensive sides of the balls.”
Coach K.C. White was unavailable to coach on Saturday so Owen filled in for her.
Even with the regular season winding down, the Lady Tigers are finding new ways to test themselves. Last week they played against two more top-tiered Division II opponents in Rocky River and Worthington Kilbourne.
They edged Rocky River 7-6 on April 27 but couldn’t repeat their success against the Wolves.
Chagrin Falls (7-2-0) got off to another fast start by taking a 3-0 lead with senior midfielder Peyton Gellin pacing her tem by scoring two goals in the opening period.
The Wolves had their chances and launched seven shots at the net but Chagrin Falls’ sophomore goalkeeper Kiera Moran saved all seven including four free possession shots.
Worthington Kilbourne finally scored when senior attacker Brynlee Pinschenat fired one past Moran on a free possession shot at the 8:05 mark trimming the lead to 3-1.
The Wolves started incorporating more man-to-man defense taking away Chagrin Falls’ transition game.
Owen admitted that the Lady Tigers struggled to adjust to Kilbourne’s pressure defense.
“We definitely are a good fast-paced team,” said the second-year coach. “Our biggest obstacle is moving the goalie. Worthington Kilbourne’s goalkeeper played incredibly on Saturday and had some really great saves but we needed to place our shots a little bit better and incorporate some faking into that to really be successful.”
Pinschenat’s goal ignited the Wolves’ offense as they scored four unanswered goals to take a 5-3 lead near the end of the first half.
Kilbourne started winning the draws and ran long offensive possessions allowing it to find the open cutter for the close-range shot.
“They were really good at stopping the ball,” said sophomore midfielder Bailey Corto. “They’re a really aggressive team and knew how to go to the goal.”
The Lady Tigers cut the lead to 5-4 when senior attacker Aubree Daugherty scored an unassisted goal with 1:30 remaining in the first half.
Worthington Kilbourne continued controlling the draws in the second half and scored three unanswered goals, all by junior attacker Julie Barrie, to extend its lead to 8-4.
Owen decided to switch things up and inserted sophomore midfielder Lyla Breeden in the draw circle.
“We’ve been working on Lyla’s draw game a lot,” explained Owen. “She’s put in a lot of extra time which definitely showed on Saturday. When she came in she was getting a lot more of those extra possessions.”
Breeden won two consecutive draws and Corto woke up her team by scoring two unanswered goals cutting Worthington Kilbourne’s lead to 8-6.
Chagrin Falls has many upperclassmen on the team but Corto brings a wealth of experience despite just being a sophomore.
Having already received meaningful minutes her freshman season on the varsity team, she’s poised to take the next step.
“I had a lot of experience especially in the fall with my club team,” Corto explained. “I was able to change as a person and gained a lot of confidence between freshman year and my sophomore year.”
According to Owen, the Lady Tigers’ sophomore has made her presence felt.
“Bailey has been incredible,” she said. “We love working with her. She’s a great girl and a great player. Her effort is always 100% no matter what and her attitude is always positive. Any team would be lucky to have Bailey and we are so lucky to have her.”
Chagrin Falls’ hot stretch did not last when the Wolves pushed the lead back to 10-6 in a span of less than two minutes.
Worthington Kilbourne continued working long possessions and kept the Tigers’ transition game at bay.
“It was very difficult,” admitted Breeden. “In practice we practice a lot of high-pressure defense on both the attack and defense. It’s a very big difference because a lot of teams don’t play like that.”
Owen said the Lady Tigers have been working on their patience on offense. They love to run the field in transition but acknowledged that is not always going to be an option.
The Tigers improved their record to 8-2-0 by beating crosstown rival Kenston 17-4 in a home contest on May 2.
Following a road contest against Gilmour on May 3, Chagrin Falls will welcome Cleveland Heights to town at 6:30 p.m. on May 5, then travel to Canton to play North Canton Hoover at 1:30 p.m. on May 7.