May 21—Meadville Tribune
It's not easy to win a district title in any sport and it's even harder to win consecutive championships — but that's exactly what the Conneaut girls lacrosse team accomplished Friday.
The Lady Eagles dominated Villa Maria at Hagerty Events Center's Dollinger Field to the tune of a 16-5 win in the District 10 Class 2A Championship.
"I'm really proud of them. We had some great senior leadership with all of our seniors contributing this year. It was an entire team effort," Conneaut head coach Scott Shannon said. "From the freshmen we had on the field, and we had two in Victoria Medrick and Camille Turner that really contributed this year, to the seniors. I'm proud of everything they've been able to accomplish."
From the opening face-off it was clear Conneaut was in control of the game. Senior Jocelyn Denihan won the face off and the Lady Eagles dominated possession from there.
Conneaut got on the board first when Senior Rylee Jones converted on a free position shot at the 21:50 mark. Fellow senior Sydney Phillips scored unassisted at 20:33 to put Conneaut up 2-0.
Villa Maria didn't advance the ball into Conneaut's half of the field until about five minutes into the game.
"We've had good success against Villa. We know what they have and we match up well against them. That's been our M.O. all year. Let's get the ball and control it and not force it. We say if it's in our stick they can't score."
Jones dished a perfect pass to Medrick for a goal at 13:35 and Phillips had a dime to Ashley Crabb at 10:02. Conneaut held a commanding 6-0 lead.
Villa Maria got on the board with 2:59 left in the half and snuck one in with two seconds remaining, but a goal and another assist from Jones put Conneaut up 10-2 at the halfway point.
Conneaut continued to control the ball in the second half and held on for a 16-4 win.
Leading the offense was Jones with three goals and four assists. As a senior and a career 100-goal scorer, she said she's been trying to lead by example this season.
"I'm always trying to be a good leader and be a good role model for my teammates under me because I know that they look up to me even more than I think they do," Jones said. "I know when I was a freshman I looked up to our seniors a lot so I want to be there for them like my seniors were for me."
Phillips finished with four goals and one assist while Jacqueline Detelich had three goals and three assists.
Medrick tallied three goals while Crabb, Denihan and Brianna Nader each scored once.
"When I came in our program as a freshman it wasn't nearly as strong as it is now. This year we had our first incoming group of freshmen who had played before from our middle school team, so that was a big help this year. All of our girls worked super hard," Jones said. "We have a lot of natural athletes and I think we came together well as a team this year to build off of last year."
Conneaut has accomplished a lot over the past two seasons. Last year was the program's first district title. This season the team won its first region title in program history and went back-to-back as district champs.
Last season, the Lady Eagles lost to Mars 15-7 in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs.
Jones, an Edinboro University recruit, said the team is not satisfied with just advancing to the state playoffs this season.
"Last year we were happy to win D10 and have fun in the state tournament," Jones said. "We weren't really looking for much, but we did better than we expected, so this year we're looking to actually do well and do something."
Conneaut will play the WPIAL champion on Tuesday, May 31 at a time and location to be announced.
"It gets a lot tougher from here. When you head to Pittsburgh it's a different level of lacrosse. If you can get beyond that it's a whole 'nother level. We hope to get down there and make some noise. We'll play the WPIAL champion and they'll be tough but we have some talent with our girls this year and maybe we'll surprise somebody down there," Shannon said. "If we play our A game and keep away from the mistakes, it's exciting to think about what we could do but we have our work cut out for us."
Alex Topor can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at .