Albemarle’s girls lacrosse team got off to a slow start. Or maybe Monticello’s young crew got off to a fast one.
Either way, Albemarle was down two goals right out of the gate and needed to get going.
“I was a little nervous because we hadn’t really talked about situations or if you get scored on how to pick it up,” said Albemarle coach Brittany McElheny. “I really counted on those girls that have been with me for awhile — they knew what to do, they knew how to respond.”
The Patriots almost immediately responded by starting to light up the scoreboard and exploded to a 23-10 victory over the Mustangs.
By halftime, Albemarle had surged to a 13-6 lead after turning around that 2-0 start. Lauren Grady, Ella Dofflemyer and Sophia Bombardieri got the offense moving and rang up five goals each while Leigh Young scored four and made a major impact at the draw.
“We have had on-and-off drawers and she hasn’t gotten consistent practice in over 16 months,” McElheny said. “She kind of started out timid and then she decided she was going to place it and we came up with and that generated our offense.”
That work paid off. The game ended with a 17-17 tie on controls between the two squads, but in the second half, Young pulled off a string of them to help prevent Monticello — and in particular Allison Swartout who was picking up a lot of draws of her on — from clawing their way back into the game.
“Since we had two years off since COVID I’ve been spending a lot of time on my stickwork, those one-handeds are really important for the draw,” Young said. “I’m so happy it could come together and also so thankful for the people on the circle who were able to help me with that too.”
Lauren Grady had a particularly huge game for the Patriots, adding three assists to her five-goal explosion. She was efficient throughout too as she needed just seven shots to get her five goals. Bombardieri and Dofflemyer were efficient as well, taking just six shots each to reach nine goals. Bombardieri was a major factor on the draw too, helping bolster Young’s efforts in a big way.
Albemarle’s first-year starter at goalie Olivia Bickers bounced back from that slow start to make nine saves, helping hold a young but lightning quick Monticello team in check.
Monticello got a huge game from Swartout, the squad’s lone returning starter from the 2019 region championship squad. Swartout had six goals, six ground balls and won 10 draws.
The Mustangs also saw a lot of positive signs for an inexperienced roster that is still sorting things out.
“I’m almost in tears, I’m so proud of them,” said Monticello coach Langley Sloan. “It’s a really young group and they work so hard every day. It’s just going to take us time and they didn’t give up at all. They are the best part of my day every single day that I’m with them.”
The Mustangs get almost a week to take another step forward before taking on Western Albemarle Thursday night while Albemarle will enjoy a seven day break before taking on Charlottesville Friday.