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The Salem boys and girls teams both cruised in semifinal lacrosse action on their home field.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
It was a double case of home cooking.
Both Salem High School lacrosse teams, girls and boys, were in action in the West Division semifinals at the well-appointed Spartans field Wednesday. The girls opened with E.C. Glass and the guys tangled with Patrick Henry in the nightcap.
With temperatures pushing past 90 degrees and conditions on the artificial turf hotter than that, everybody cooked.
The Spartans feasted.
The girls crushed Glass 19-3 before the boys edged the archrival Patriots 11-9.
All four teams will continue to play. Salem’s girls (13-1) entertain PH at 5 p.m. Friday for the championship. Glass (6-8) plays Rockbridge County at 5:30 p.m. Friday at PH for third place.
Salem’s boys (12-2) go to E.C. Glass at 7:30 p.m. to play the Hilltoppers for the championship. Rockbridge County and PH (9-6) will play in the 5:30 p.m. game on the same field for third place.
In the boys game, Salem blew out to a 6-2 lead before the first quarter was through. The Patriots kept fighting, though, and had closed to within two goals with a minute to play.
It was at that stage that Spartans goalkeeper Evans Pierce turned away a low blast by Christian Blackwell that would have cut the deficit down to a single goal and handed all the momentum to the visitors. Instead, it was Pierce’s 15th save.
“He was our player of the game,” Salem coach David Turk said.
The keeper sensed his teammates were fading late. The Spartans led 9-6 to start the fourth.
“I felt like I had to step up my game in the fourth quarter because I noticed we’d started to slack off a little bit,” Pierce said. “In situations like that, your adrenaline starts pumping and just keeps coming and coming every time you make a save.”
To Patriots coach Josh Wilkinson, the key stretch was early in the game.
“We came out a little slow and gave up six goals in that first quarter and against a good team like Salem, it’s tough to come all the way back. I give their goalie credit. He made some nice saves at the end.”
There was a cushion to work with, which helped. The Spartans put together a balanced attack to make it happen. Chad Fisher, Phillip Robertson and Connor Sampson each had a pair of goals, and Fisher and Robertson combined on five assists.
Fisher, a midfielder who had a lot of ground to cover, compared conditions to early September football, another season on which he is an authority.
“It’s a factor being hot, but once you’ve been out in it a couple of days, you’re back to normal,” he said.
This was a rubber match game, with PH taking the April 18 game 12-9 and Salem winning 12-7 Monday.
“The kids were just exhausted because they played really hard Monday, then one day’s rest and they’re right back out playing against a great team that gave a great effort,” Turk said. “Both teams left it on the field.”
That’s the way it goes in rivalry games.
“Anytime you can beat PH it’s good,” Sampson said.
In the girls game, it was never close. The season series has been lopsided as well, with Salem taking all three games. The Spartans won the regular season contests 15-7 and 21-3. After Salem pushed its lead to 10 goals and beyond Wednesday, most of the second half was played with a continuous clock that ran until the two-minute mark as per the rule for lopsided games.
“Salem’s improved a whole lot this year and we’re still trying to find ourselves,” Hilltoppers coach Karen Yates said.
Salem led 12-2 at intermission and coasted from there.
“Today was an improvement over the first two games,” Salem coach Maggi Pace said. “We got everybody in and everybody played a lot. Even our freshmen who haven’t had any playing time at all played really hard on defense. I think it was just a good showing overall.”
Midfielder Makenzie Haymaker had a strong performance at the offensive end with seven goals. Cate Pace, a sophomore midfielder and the sister of the coach, contributed four more goals. Nine players scored and goalie Emma Blair made eight stops.
“Earlier in the season we definitely had some communication issues and transition was tough,” said Haymaker, a senior. “We definitely improved on communicating on defense and working together as a whole.”
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