The campuses of Centreville high school and Westfield high school are separated by just 6 1/2 miles, a drive of less than 15 minutes. That proximity has bred a familiarity between the girls’ lacrosse teams, borne of youth lacrosse teams that blended players from the two schools.
It has also bred a special kind of rivalry between the ninth-ranked Bulldogs and the Wildcats, who will face off Wednesday night with the AAA Concorde District title on the line. While a championship and first-round bye would be nice, perhaps the opportunity for the Bulldogs is the chance to one-up their friends-turned-nemeses.
“We grew up together, so we were kind of like sisters before hand, but now our schools are big rivals so it’s kind of like a weird kind of relationship we have now,” Westfield junior Meghan Heick said. “We love each other but when we’re on the field there’s almost a kind of hate. It’s a love-hate relationship we have right now, so it gets pretty competitive.”
Heick, along with Westfield teammates like Katie Manning, Molly O’Sullivan and Paige Esposito were all one-time teammates with Centreville stars Reagan Newell and Caroline Wakefield, the Wildcats’ two leading scorers this season. After learning the game together, Wednesday night, Manning said, will be about “trying to prove to each other who is better.”
“At the beginning of the season, I think a lot of teams underestimated us,” Manning said. “They’re like ‘oh it’s just Westfield, but they’re in the same district as Centreville, who’s got all these really good young girls, and Oakton, the state champs.’ I think we’ve definitely got to prove ourselves in this game to the rest of the district, that we are a force to be reckoned with.”
With a win, Westfield would clinch the top spot in the district, a bye in the first round of the district tournament on Friday and a spot in the Northern Region tournament.
A loss would drop the Bulldogs into a three way tie for first place with Centreville and Oakton, a team Westfield beat in its district opener April 9. Should Westfield lose, the three-way tie would be broken at random with a coin flip or a number draw.
“I think it’s definitely something that everybody on the team is taking to heart because we know that we deserve to be in first place. If we lost it would just be frustrating because it’s determined by a coin toss,” Manning said. “Everybody knows that we deserve this so we’re going to come out and play this game and prove to Centreville what we’re made of.”
Saints suffer rare defeat
The St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes girls’ lacrosse team made the marathon bus ride to Long Island for the first time over the weekend and left with its first loss in more than a year.
The top-ranked Saints beat Manhasset, 16-14, on Friday before falling to St. Anthony’s, 9-8, a day later. The loss snapped a 37-game winning streak and was the team’s first since an overtime setback on April 18, 2012 against rival Georgetown Visitation.
Coach Kathy Jenkins said she scheduled the trip to expose her team to a different style of play and got her wish, matching up against a pair of fast, athletic squads. St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes was ranked No. 2 in the most recent U.S. Lacrosse national poll with Manhasset and St. Anthony’s checking in at No. 4 and No. 8, respectively.
“They both had a couple Carly Reeds,” Jenkins said, referencing her own All-Met attacker known for her dynamic play around the cage.
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (21-1) began a grueling three-day stretch with an 18-6 win at Stone Ridge last Thursday night. The team was also short-handed during the trip because of injury and illness.
Jenkins and her players boarded a bus at the Alexandria private school on Friday morning and sat through a six-hour ride before meeting Manhasset. Reed and junior Kathryn Cavallo each scored four goals and junior goalie Gussie Johns stopped 15 shots in the narrow win over the Indians.
On Saturday, St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes had the chance to preserve its unblemished record even playing without Reed for the entire second half after she picked up two yellow cards in quick succession.
The Saints erased a two-goal deficit to tie it at 8 before ceding the go-ahead goal to St. Anthony’s sophomore Isabela Mangan with about two minutes remaining. The score was set up by Maggie Bill, an ultra-athletic midfielder who will join Reed next year on the lacrosse team at North Carolina and also play soccer for the Tar Heels.
In the final minute, St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes managed two shots but could not muster the equalizer. Senior Besser Dyson recorded two goals and two assists in the loss.
“Our girls were devastated, very upset, but afterward, we said, ‘You have nothing to be embarrassed about,’” Jenkins said. “They played harder than I’ve seen them play in a long time. That’s all we can ask for.”