Girls lacrosse: Law finds new rival in Westhill Vikings
Jonathan Law girls lacrosse coach Lynette Martinez was happy to be home last Thursday afternoon.
She enjoyed watching her team run through it's pre-game drills in preparation for a match against Westhill of Stamford. After three games on the road, in which the Lady Lawmen had picked up two victories and had scored 33 goals, the locals were happy to return to the friendly confines of their home field.
With that in mind, however, Martinez and her players knew that the game against the Vikings out of the FCIAC wasn't going to be an easy task.
Winless in their first three encounters, the Vikings, coached by Kim Stowe, were going to be ready for the challenge.
Stowe and Martinez are good friends and this was the fourth meeting between them.
When it was over, Martinez and her team had prevailed, 13-11, but they were given a scare by the downstate team.
"We've built up a nice, little friendly rivalry," said Martinez, who took the 2017 Lady Lawmen to the Class M state tournament in her first year (while recording a school record 13 wins). The program is only in its fourth season on the varsity level.
"I've known Kim for sometime. We teach together (in Stamford). In every game that we've played against each other, her teams have always been well prepared. Today, we needed a good late-game defensive effort to beat them."
Law entered the second half with a three-goal, 9-6, cushion. After grabbing a 3-0 lead less than four minutes in, it appeared that the Lady Lawmen were going to have a dominant day.
Getting early goals from Erin Goodwin, Laura Dennigan and Erin Goodwin again allowed Law to enjoy the luxury of a good start.
"We let them get a good jump on us," Stowe said. "But I had confidence in these kids. What we needed to do at that time was find our composure and to not get rattled by them. We weren't getting early possessions and we weren't able to go into our offensive sets."
Once the Vikings did, the game changed drastically. Westhill scored five of the game's next seven goals, trimming the Law's lead to 4-3 by the 14-minute mark of the half.
That's when Law's Olivia Keator, the team's best offensive player, began taking over. Keator has put up some gaudy numbers during her career at the school. The college-bound senior (her choices to date at UConn and Endicott College) came into the game having scored 226 goals to go along with her 116 assists.
"We want to get the ball on her stick as much as we can," Martinez said. "Her cuts and feints are usually so good that a defender has a hard time playing her one-on-one."
Once Keator went to work, Law's offense was kicked up several notches. Keator scored three goals before the half ended before adding three more in the game's second 25 minutes. Most of the time, she was either double or triple-teamed.
"It isn't easy trying to stop a player with her skills," Stowe said. "We did the best we could. We tried to clog the middle and keep her away from getting in front of the net as best we could."
A Keator goal at the 13:03 mark of the second half gave Law an 11-7 lead. Westhill scored three goals, two by Jackie Fahey and another by Grace Hanson, over a span of less than four minutes to put Westhill back in the game trailing 11-10 with 4:02 to play.
But resiliency seems to be a part of the DNA of this Law team.
The Lady Lawmen went back on offense. Erin Goodwin upped Law's lead to 12-10 when she scored from in close with 3:17 left, before Keator iced it with her sixth goal of the match with 1:57 remaining. Westhill was only able to close it down to a two-goal margin when Hanson scored with eight seconds left.
Throughout the later stages of the second half, Law's defense, led by senior goalkeeper Stella Patrick (six saves) and the defensive play of Chloe McCullough and Mary Lonergan, kept the Vikings at bay.
"Stella is the cornerstone of this team,"Martinez said. "She makes the big saves when she has to. We shifted defensively late in the game trying to keep as much of their play to the left side because, in lacrosse, most of the players are right handed."
Westhill finished with a 21-18 margin in shots while Law won 16 of the game's 25 face-offs.
It was the first time that Martinez has beaten her friend. "Nothing personal,"Stowe said. "They played a better game than we did today. We'll still be friends."
Erin Goodwin and Dennigan backed up Keator by scoring three goals each. Law’s best playmaker, Andria Torres, had six assists bringing her season-long total to 15.