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No. 13 Marriotts Ridge girls lacrosse defeats Howard, 11-9, on senior night

Apr. 19—Marriotts Ridge girls lacrosse trailed Howard by two late in the first half. A shot by the Lions to go up three went wide, and the Mustangs quickly countered. Rachel Harper scored her second goal of the game to bring Marriotts Ridge within one and give the Mustangskey momentum entering the second half.

At halftime, coach Amanda Brady emphasized the importance of patience. She felt her Mustangs were forcing things in the first half, not waiting for the right opportunities. However, Marriotts Ridge maximized its second-half possessions. The No. 13 Mustangs outscored the Lions by three in the final two quarters, closing out an 11-9 win on senior night.

"We're such a tight-knit group," said Harper, one of five seniors. "We're all the best of friends. So, the excitement carrying in through this morning all the way into tonight, it was just so great to end it with a win."

In a game tied at 8 in the fourth quarter, the intensity increased with each possession. With Howard face-guarding several Mustangs attackers, space opened up. Sophomore Bella Boats, one of the Mustangs' fastest players, took advantage.

She drew a foul and ripped an 8-meter opportunity through the legs of Lions goalie Emma Antill to take a 9-8 lead. Chrish Vaxmonsky and Boats added goals, pushing the Mustangs' lead to three with 3:44 remaining.

Vaxmonsky's fourth and final goal was reminiscent of her earlier finishes, utilizing a swim move and dipping her shoulder to create space from defenders. The senior has refined that dodge throughout her three-year varsity career by diligently practicing it each day.

"Chrish is a go-getter," Brady said. "She won't take no for an answer. She has a confidence about her and when she has that, she is going to use that to her advantage. She works really hard in practice all the time. She wants to win. She wants to be the person that helps her team. Whether it be her dodging and dishing or dodging and finishing, she's able to do both and she does it really well."

Marriotts Ridge (8-2, 4-0 Howard County) started the game strong, taking a three-goal in the first eight minutes. However, Howard answered back. The Lions (4-4, 3-2) scored three straight goals of their own to even the score early in the second quarter. Howard controlled possession by winning contested ground balls in much of the quarter.

The Mustangs were called for a yellow card and the Lions took advantage. Brynn Bartlett sparked a run that gave Howard a 6-4 lead with a goal and an assist.

"I was a little upset about the ground balls at first and I said that was something we needed to focus on," Howard coach Megan Hart said. "Then we were able to get stops in the midfield."

The Lions' offense then sputtered, held scoreless for over 10 minutes. Marriotts Ridge's offense found its groove once again with three straight goals to take a one-goal lead. Howard responded, but the Mustangs ultimately led by one entering the final quarter.

The Lions' Jessica Vela tied the game early in the fourth on a feed from Avery Graham. Yet the Mustangs controlled the game the rest of the way, finishing out a meaningful day for the seniors.

"You've just got to take it one step at a time," Vaxmonsky said. "Lacrosse is an easily shifting and momentum game. You know momentum is going to shift back and forth throughout the game, especially with the introduction of quarters this year. You've got to keep your head strong and don't let it get to you."

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Marriotts Ridge — 3 2 2 3 — 11

Howard — 2 4 1 2 — 9

Goals: MR- Chrish Vaxmonsky 4, Bella Boats 3, Rachel Harper 2, Noelle Zahn, Sarah Fitter; Ho- Brynn Bartlett 2, Avery Graham 2, Jessica Vela 2, Courtney Brooks, Avery Lockwood, Shea Howland. Assists: MR- Esther Yang, Sarah Fitter; Ho- Brynn Bartlett 2, Avery Graham 2, Avery Lockwood. Saves: MR- Kaelyn Krozy- 5; Ho- Emma Antill 4.