By Drew Goodman / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
In the film industry, the sequel rarely outshines the original, but that was not the case in the second meeting of the season between the Albemarle and Monticello girls’ lacrosse teams.
Round one was a compelling contest, but Tuesday’s rematch was an exciting back-and-forth affair, which both programs have become accustomed to over the years.
As was the case in the first meeting, however, the Mustangs nursed a slim advantage for the duration of the second half, and the Patriots could never fully close the gap.
Monticello seized the lead at the 16:40 mark of the first half, and made the plays that it needed to down the stretch to outlast AHS, 18-16.
The Mustangs (9-1) led by as many as five goals in the first half, before the Patriots closed the gap all the way to one on two separate occasions in the second.
Albemarle freshman Ella Dofflemyer trimmed her team’s deficit to 16-15 at one point, but the home team won several key draw controls down the stretch and allowed just one Patriot goal in the final 6:56 of regulation.
Monticello was able to simply play keep away and run out the clock in the first meeting, thanks to a multi-goal cushion, but this time around, the Mustangs needed to build some insurance late to fend off their cross-town rivals.
“We knew going in that this wasn’t the same Albemarle that we saw just a few weeks ago,” Monticello head coach Langley Sloan said. “We never expect anything less from them than talent and hustle, and so, that that was the message to our girls. ‘You have to out-hustle them, you have to out-heart them…’, and I think that shows on the field.”
Tuesday was the last scheduled meeting of the season between Albemarle and Monticello, which, thankfully for the Patriots, means that they will likely not have to see Monticello’s Caleigh Smith anytime soon.
After an eight-point performance against Albemarle in early-April, Smith turned in eight goals and three assists in her second crack at the Patriots.
Smith scored Monticello’s first three goals of the game, with her third giving the Mustangs the lead for good.
After the Pats pulled to within with 6:57 remaining, Alison Swartout answered with a sweet wraparound goal, MHS was not quite out of Woods.
Enter Smith, once again.
After some key ground ball-wins Smith went low to give Monticello an insurmountable three-goal advantage.
“That’s just her second-nature,” Sloan said. “She works so hard at this sport- it’s her true love. When that’s your true love, you don’t think about it, you just do it.”
In her two games against Albemarle this season, Smith has combined for 14 goals and five assists.
In addition to Smith’s big night, two of her fellow Mustangs recorded hat tricks. Freshman Taylor Hackney tallied five points, while senior Josie Mallory finished with three.
Mallory’s third score of the night gave Monticello a 12-8 advantage. After seeing its once-big margin trimmed to one in the first minute of the second half, MHS later built two separate four-point leads.
The Howard University-bound Mallory was one of seven seniors that was recognized prior to Tuesday night’s clash.
A big-time goal by Smith gave the home team a 15-11 lead with 13:51 left, before the Patriots made a final run.
Despite battling the four-goal deficit and tired legs from a battle with Mills Godwin 24 hours beforehand, the Patriots went right.
Thanks to a pair of big shots from Kelsey Myers as well as scores from Jordyn Solak and Dofflemyer, the Patriots were one goal short of tying the game with less than seven minutes remaining.
Despite the late momentum, however, Albemarle managed to get over the hump. Trailing by just two goals, the Patriots turned the ball over twice in the final two minutes which killed any chance of a comeback.
“We just still are unfortunately learning and that comes with some end-of-game mistakes,” Albemarle head coach Brittany McElheny said. “There’s just a lot of learning happening, but we got to just keep going full-speed. We just have to keep growing every game and getting better.”
Myers added a free position goal for her season-best seventh of the night with 2:40 remaining to complete the scoring for both teams.
Dofflemyer and Solak each added three goals, with Solak shooting 75-percent on the night.
The Patriots will battle Western Albemarle next Monday, while the Mustangs will look for win number 10 against Charlottesville.