Lake Catholic vs. NDCL girls lacrosse: Cougars' diverse attack braves elements to beat rival Lions, 7-4

Apr. 12—The rain and wind weren't going to stop rivals from battling it out. Lake Catholic and NDCL went out and braved the elements for the April 12 matchup.

The Lions got out to a lead in the first quarter, but the Cougars responded with five straight to lead at the break. Lake Catholic went on to take the contest, 7-4.

Lake Catholic improved to 2-3, while NDCL fell to 1-4.

Grace Hinkel led the charge for the Lions early with two goals early in the first quarter with the first goal of the contest being her 100th goal of her career. But Lake Catholic had a quick answer from Lillian Doolan that drew it back within a goal.

After her first two goals, the Cougars defense zoned in on Hinkel, forcing her to pass the ball. Coach Robert Mercuri was happy with the work his team's defense did against her.

"It's everything, Grace is a great player that starts their offense," Mercuri said. "Shutting her down was important. Every time she got inside the critical scoring area, we were crashing and putting two or three girls on her. We weren't going to let her get too close to the goal."

Megan Joy had the equalizer late in the first quarter after a timeout from the Cougars. However, a new challenge was added to the Cougars' plate in the second quarter.

Doolan received two yellow cards to be removed from the game. With their go-to attacker out of the game, they needed to turn elsewhere to take the lead.

In the second period, Hannah Aliff had two goals and Cali Cantrell added one for a 5-2 lead at halftime. The players knew it was going to be a challenge to get around the Lions' defense, led by Kara Fox in goal.

"We just needed to work through it and work on smart plays," Joy said. "We missed a couple shots along with them having a strong defense. We needed to adjust for what works with the goalie and what she doesn't work well against. We wanted to get more cutters, and getting a lead like that really helped."

Joy added a second goal in the fourth quarter and Julianna Conforte also finished in the scoring column. After a slow start for the Cougars' attack this season, the team has started to find its stride in that end of the field.

In years past, Lake Catholic has had the likes of Mila Udovicic and Rylee Anderson to lead the attack. But this season, the Cougars don't have that go-to player on the attack.

Joy and Mercuri have seen the players working on building trust in each other as a young group that is building confidence in a group.

"We've been working a lot on finding the open cutter," Joy said. "We have the girls that can seal, and we have to take our time to work it rather than rush it. We need to work together as a team. Lillian leads a lot after being a big player for us a year ago, but we also have a lot of players and we get excited for each other."

Merucri added: "This team needs to have that trust in each other. That's what this season is all about. We need to slow down the pace and control the ball. Against a team like NDCL, we needed to limit their possessions. Controlling the ball was the main focus today and this group continues to show a lot of improvement."

Hinkel finished with three goals for NDCL and Kathryn Keefe found the back of the goal as well.

The Lions look to get back in the win column when they travel to Beaumont on April 16. Lake Catholic goes for its third win in a row when it travels to Conneaut on April 13.


Lake Catholic 7, NDCL 4