WORTHINGTON — A three-year state title streak ended last year when the Medina girls lacrosse team lost to eventual state runner-up Sycamore one step away from the championship game.
It was a team the Bees had tied in the regular season, so Medina might have been looking ahead. That loss taught the squad a valuable lesson and it’s one it surely will remember tonight at 7:30 when it plays Mason in an Ohio Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association Division I state semifinal.
Don’t think for a moment the second-ranked Bees, who have reached the state semifinals for the sixth year in a row, will be looking past the third-ranked Comets, even though they opened the season with a 13-7 win over Mason.
“It’s not what you did in your past,” Bees coach Amanda Wilson said. “It’s what you’re doing now. We tell them to focus on what’s around you. If you’re there in the present and don’t care about the future or past, you’ll be fine.”
As confident as that sounds, Mason is even more sure it can beat Medina. It put together a schedule where it faced six top-10 teams and traveled to play Illinois powers New Trier, Hinsdale Central and Loyola Academy. While the Comets’ 14-5 record might look just above average, their only losses in state came to the Bees (16-2) and Sycamore (18-0).
That has Mason walking with a swagger.
“We beat Worthington Kilbourne, who will probably win the Division II state title,” Comets coach Paul Limpert said. “We went up to Chicago and played probably the top three teams in the region and played them tough.
“I have 11 seniors on the team and they needed to see that level of pressure. When we played Medina, we drove 3½ hours. It was cold. They always play varsity first and we were used to playing jayvee first. Medina gave us a lot of pressure.
“I was confident the schedule would prepare them for the next time. Medina is a high-pressure team. We’ve seen that ever since we’ve played them. They haven’t. We want to take state and we think we’re good enough for it. These last two games are going to be tough. Medina and Sycamore are tough.”
Limpert has a stable of high-powered senior players ready to back up his words, led by Mercer recruits Lindsey Zeltwanger (38 goals, 21 assists) and Tori Blakeman (37, 14) at middie and attack, respectively.
Attack Brianna Manns (44, 11) is headed to San Diego State, while middie Allie Stecht (28, 15) will play for William & Mary. In goal, Alex Janus is earmarked for Gardner-Webb.
With Casey Lawson (26, 10) at middie as well, Limpert believes if his team is on offense, the Bees are finished.
“If we get the ball on our stick 60 percent of the time off the draw, I don’t think Medina has a chance,” Limpert said. “In fact, I know they don’t.”
Where the Bees have a huge advantage is experience. Mason hasn’t been to a state semifinal since 2005, while Medina makes it a habit.
Middie seniors Kathryn Grenfell and Elena Schorr and juniors Cassie Hudson-Heck, Alyssa Rydell, Mackenzie Hitchcock and Olivia Passe played on the 2012 state championship team. So did senior attack Amanda Rom, who is a University of Tampa recruit. There’s state experience on defense as well with juniors Alex Smith and goalie Mikaela Faus.
“I think it’s priceless,” Wilson said. “You can practice the X’s and O’s of the team all you want, but the final result isn’t quite as permanent.
There’s a heart and intensity that is brought out in postseason games. We’re fortunate they’re our leading group. They’re an example of using your head and grinding it out. It’s invaluable.”
So are talents like sophomore attack Sarah Vanadia (57 goals, 26 assists), Rom (45, 21), Hitchcock (32, 31) and Faus (4.4 goals against average).
“We’re pretty well-rounded,” Wilson said. “All games we want 60 percent of our goals to come off of assists. We’ve got people feeding the ball and hoping to set up our scorers.
“We’re pretty deep in our ability to do that. Two girls in our defense have 40 points. I think when things are clicking and we’re all on the same page, we’re deadly.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.