Over the past decade, the Westwood girls lacrosse team hasn’t gone into many games as the underdog.
Last night, that was the case, as the third-seeded Wolverines headed to top-seeded Needham for the Division 1 South Final. But underdog status didn’t seem to slow them down, as the Wolverines pulled away from the Rockets late in the game for a 12-9 victory.
“They’re so hungry for it,” Westwood coach Leslie Frank said about her players. “They’ve come so far [this year].”
After the start of the game was delayed about 75 minutes due to rain, Westwood opened up strong on the attack. While Needham freshman Carly Colman did score the first goal of the game to give the Rockets an early lead about 4:30 into the game, the Wolverines had several early point blank opportunities. But Needham’s sophomore goalkeeper Annee O’Connor came up big on several occasions, keeping Needham in the game.
The Rockets extended their lead to three goals at 4-1 and 5-2, but Westwood’s attack wouldn’t let up.
“We were more on alert than ever [coming into this game],” Needham coach Beth O’Brien said, noting the Rockets’ win over Westwood on May 12. “We knew they’d be hungry. The best part of their game is their offense.”
Down 3 goals, Westwood showed just how good their offense is when they scored three goals over a 1:16 period, including 2 goals by sophomore Ela Hazar in 26 seconds.
“The coaches told us not to get frustrated, just to stay calm” Westwood All-America Laura McHoul said. “One goal at a time. Don’t look ahead. Just get one goal at a time to get back in this game and that’s what we did and we got our momentum going.”
The rest of the first half continued to be played at a high level, which is no surprise considering there were at least six future Division 1 collegiate players on the field. Needham took a 2-goal lead, but Westwood’s Kate Rich scored on a penalty shot with no time remaining to pull within 1 at the half.
The first 10 minutes of the second half were played pretty evenly on the scoreboard, although the Wolverines threatened a few times. The Wolverines took the lead for good with 12:13 remaining in the game, and would score two more goals to keep the game out of reach. Needham tried to get the ball back and make something happen on the offensive end, but Westwood just had too much.
“It’s just about waiting for the opportunity and not being selfish and not forcing it,” Frank said.
With the loss, Needham finishes their season at 22-2. They graduate five seniors, so the majority of their roster will be returning next year.
“They set the foundation for us,” O’Brien said of the seniors. “They wanted to go farther. They wanted to go harder. They wanted to compete with the best.”
Westwood (22-2) will now face the winner of the Lincoln-Sudbury/Andover game for the Eastern Championship. The Wolverines lost to Lincoln-Sudbury earlier this year.
“I want to go all the way,” McHoul said. “We have young talent. They may be young. They may not be as experienced, but they’re definitely talented and I trust them 100 percent on the field…
“Whoever comes our way, we’ll be ready.”