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Blue Streaks end drought in girls' lacrosse

Blue Streaks end drought in girls' lacrosse

Big second half leads to first title since 1998
Blue Streaks end drought in girls' lacrosse
Saratoga's Katie Wendell tries to get past Bethlehem's Annie Quinn in the Section II Class A final on Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

ROTTERDAM -- The Saratoga Springs girls' lacrosse team was in a familiar spot against a familiar foe, trailing Bethlehem by a goal at the half of Wednesday's Section II Class A championship game.

The last time the Blue Streaks were in such a position, in a regular season matchup with the Eagles earlier this month, they mustered little in the form of a response and lost their only Suburban Council game.

Wednesday, with a reversal of form, they claimed their first area title since 1998.

"In the second half, we stuck our heads in it and kept playing our game," said junior midfielder Lindsey Frank, one of the stars in Saratoga's 14-12  win at Mohonasen High School. "At the half, we talked about coming out and playing with full hearts, and not getting down on ourselves."

Saratoga got down on the scoreboard in the second half after quickly tying the game at six, and got back up, not once but twice, after trailing 8-6 and later 12-11.

"I'm so thrilled, but I'm not surprised," Saratoga coach Elaine Anton Lotruglio said. "I knew they had the comeback. In the past they weren't mature enough to come back."

Ella Payer, Sophia Burke and Katie Wendell scored the final three goals to push Saratoga (No. 1 seed, 16-2) over the top in an outcome that avenged a 14-7 setback at Bethlehem on the first day of May. Bethlehem (No. 3, 13-5) went on an 8-2 second-half run that day to break away from a 6-5 lead.

"They weren't pleased with that game," Anton Lotruglio said of her players.

Saratoga extended its win streak to eight games by rallying to take the rematch with the Eagles. While Saratoga's streak included wins against Guilderland, Niskayuna, Queensbury and Shenendehowa twice, Wednesday's game was by far the most difficult of the bunch.

"This is a complete team win," said Wendell, a senior attack. "Everyone on the team bought in and played together."

Wendell scored six goals and assisted on one, and Frank produced five goals in Saratoga's first title-game appearance since a loss to Bethlehem in 2004. Abigail Searles made seven saves, including a key stop early in the second half that kept Bethlehem from adding to its 8-6 lead.

"Our team is full of heart," Wendell said. "Everyone was playing so hard."

Saratoga went on a 5-1 second-half run to go up 11-9, with Wendell and Frank both scoring twice in the spurt. Bethlehem answered on goals by Piper Gregory, Caroline Wise and Lindsay Ayres to move on top 12-11 with 5:35 left.

"When we were down we kept pushing," Frank said.

Payer tied the game at 12  just 13 seconds after Ayers had scored Bethlehem's final goal. Burke scored with 4:53 left and Wendell scored with 3:45 remaining, those last two goals coming on free position opportunities.

"Yesterday we worked for an hour on draw controls and 50-50 balls," Wendell said. "That was a big part of the game we lost."

Wednesday's contest included five three-goal runs. Saratoga started the game with one, had another in its 5-1 push in the second half, and finished the game with its last trio of unanswered goals.

"All I told them is, 'Do you want another game? Do you want to keep your season going?,'" Anton Lotruglio said. "'I can't play, but I'm with you if you want it.'"

Frank won her second Section II title this school year. In the fall the Richmond commit had two goals and two assists when Saratoga knocked off Shenendehowa 4-3 in the Section II Class A field hockey final.

"I've got to tell you, it feels really good," Frank said.

Saratoga will play the Section I champion in a regional semifinal game Wednesday (5 p.m.) at Fox Lake High School.

Saratoga was the Section II tournament's first dynasty team with seven straight championships from 1992-1998. Bethlehem's eight Section II titles came in succession from 1999 through 2006. Before Wednesday, Bethlehem played in its last final in 2009 and lost to Guilderland.

Bethlehem 6 6 - 12

Saratoga Springs 5 9 - 14

Bethlehem scoring: Zito 2-2, Wise 3-0, Hughes 2-0, Ayres 3-1, Powers 0-1, Gregory 2-0. Saratoga Springs scoring: Frank 5-0, Burke 1-1, Payer 1-0, Wendell 6-1, Hogan 0-2, Silver 1-0.

Goalies: Bethlehem, Searles, 7 saves; Saratoga Springs, Chiarella, 6 saves.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518 395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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