CLEVELAND HTS. — The Medina girls lacrosse team did something Saturday it hasn’t done since 2010: defeat Upper Arlington in the regular season.
The Bees, who have downed the Golden Bears in the last three Division I state championship games, won 7-4 in the final game of the Cleveland Heights Invitational at Denison Park.
“We wanted this more,” said senior defender Megan Wolfgang, who finished with a team-high four groundballs and two caused turnovers. “We outworked them and for my senior year, it feels good.
“It feels like the championship again.”
The game lived up to the hype, as it had a little bit of everything. Medina used timely scoring, key effort plays and suffocating defense to keep their rival off-balance.
With the game knotted at 2 at halftime, the Bees (7-0-1) rattled off three goals to open the second half, leaving Upper Arlington (6-2) with a deficit and 12 minutes to play.
It was a run that proved key after the teams traded goals the rest of the way.
“Those were critical,” Medina coach Amanda Wilson said. “We’re big on possession and maintaining the momentum of the game, and we were talking at halftime that no one really established a hold of the game yet. We wanted to be strong and put them away early (in the second half).”
The Bees opened the half with a goal just 50 seconds in, as Sierra Thomas took a pass from Mackenzie Hitchcock and beat two defenders before firing the ball past goalie Hannah Panos (5 saves).
Just 1:15 later, Hitchcock fed Kathryn Grenfell to make it 4-2.
Junior Amanda Rom pushed the lead to three when she scooped up a groundball off a forced turnover by Thomas (2 caused turnovers, 3 ground balls) and took it all the way for second score.
“That brought our spirits up so high and we knew that we had it,” Rom said of the second-half run. “We were all pumped and stuck together.”
Upper Arlington wasn’t done, however, as Syd Farwick netted two of her game-high three goals — one at the 11:37 mark and the other with 56 seconds left — but each score was followed by scrappy defensive play and a goal by Medina.
Olivia Passe netted her first career goal with 1:05 left to put the Bees up 6-3. After Farwick’s goal off the restart, Erin Stacho put the exclamation point on victory by taking a pass from Rom and scoring as time expired.
“These girls are really level-headed,” Wilson said. “It’s lacrosse and the score is normally in the double digits, so it’s not weird if someone scores on you. It’s what you do afterwards that separates a team.”
Medina’s defense was the story, as Golden Bears leading scorer Nicole Stines was held away from the goal thanks to Elena Schoor and Kathryn Grenfell shadowing the senior. Schoor also scored a goal in the first half.
Combine their efforts with Amanda Getto’s nine saves, which included a handful of diving stops, and the Bees looked hungry for another trip to the Final Four.
“The last two years when we’ve met them in regular season, they beat us and it was a huge celebration, but we always got them at states,” Wilson said. “Now we have the first one and we’ll be there for the next.”
Medina won its opener, beating Toledo St. Ursula 9-4 behind Rom’s five goals The tandem of Getto and Mikayla Faus combined for seven saves.
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.