Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In East-West showdown, B-CC girls best Blair

B-CC 16, Blair 5

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Chris Rossi⁄The Gazette
April Cahill of B-CC (left) checks the stick of Blair’s Lizzie Horne (right) Saturday during the teams’ Class 4A-3A West Region quarterfinal matchup at Blair, won by B-CC.
There was a moment, at the end of the first half of Saturday’s girls lacrosse 4A-3A West Region quarterfinal playoff game between Blair and Bethesda-Chevy Chase, when the tide turned. The Blazers had scored, with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, to shave B-CC’s lead to three. The Barons could have chosen to sit on the lead and run out the clock

Instead, junior Mimmy Wentzel, a transfer from Holton-Arms, shook herself free of her defender, took an entry pass, and found the back of the net for the Barons. That quick score spurred a four-goal run stretching into the opening minutes of the second half, and B-CC rolled to a 16-5 victory in Silver Spring.

‘‘Mimmy is a dynamic but in a lot of ways she is a subtle player,” B-CC coach Jenna Reis said. ‘‘It took the rest of the team a little while to know her strengths and get her the ball. She’s pretty humble, and she did not want to demand it, but when we started to get her the ball, we started winning.”

Wentzel scored six times as B-CC (9-3) won its eighth consecutive game. While they have figured out her role, the Barons have also figured out the roles of some other players as well. Senior attacker April Cahill has returned for the second half of this season, and set the tone early with a two quick scores in the first half. Liza Amling scored twice, serving as a reliable scoring option, as did Campbell Burr. And, as has been the case several times this season, senior Leslie Grill reprised her role as the Barons closer, scoring four times in the second half. Their poise during the game belied a case of nerves at the start. An 11 a.m. start was pushed back to 2 p.m., while Blair repaired a drenched field, and with Saturday’s prom looming, B-CC was anxious to get the game started

‘‘Man, there was so much stress,” Reis said. ‘‘But this team needed a little shaking up. They needed to handle a little adversity because they haven’t had it for a while.”

A team that has seen its share of adversity in recent years was Blair (8-4). Two years ago, the Blazers struggled to win just two games, but increased that total to five wins last year. The ascent continued this season, as they managed an upset of two-time regional champion Blake during the regular season, on the way to securing the fourth seed and a first round bye. On Saturday, one of Blair’s main reasons for that change, Helen Anderson, shined. She opened the game with a quick score, and tallied four more goals, showing skills and speed that B-CC could not contain.

‘‘Helen is an amazing leader and she deals with the pressure well,” Blair coach Mike Horne said. ‘‘We really took a team approach to things, but she always showed tremendous heart, and she became an excellent goal scorer.”

Yet, when the Barons finally clamped down on Anderson, the rest of the Blazers were unable to get to the net. For one of the few times this season, Blair struggled to get its offense on track, and was held scoreless for the final 19 minutes of the game, while B-CC scored six more goals.

‘‘Today was not our day,” Horne said. ‘‘We had chances early, but we did not capitalize on them, and then we stopped winning the 50-50 balls and the ground ball battle. B-CC played a good game, and we weren’t able to respond.”

Yet, with just five seniors graduating, the Blazers may have laid the foundation for the future. That took some of the sting out of the loss.

‘‘This season was a tremendous turnaround, and the girls worked hard,” Horne said. ‘‘We have a lot of players coming back, and our juniors and sophomores are hungry.”

The Barons are hungry as well, and get to continue their season with a chance to avenge their last loss, which happened more than a month ago, on April 11. That game was against Wootton, the region’s undefeated top seed and spurred the changes that led to a winning streak for B-CC. By virtue of Wootton’s 9-4 win over Walter Johnson, the Barons got a rematch on Tuesday in a 4A-3A West Region semifinal game that finished too late for this edition of The Gazette.

‘‘We’re definitely different from the last time we played them but Wootton is different too,” Reis said. ‘‘They mean business. It took discipline and them to believe how good they are to bring about the change, and we still need to believe.”