Girls Lacrosse Advances To Final Four Of State Tournament
David Creed •
Photography by David Creed
There was never much doubt Monday afternoon whether the fourth-seeded Whaler girls lacrosse team would clinch a spot in the final four of the MIAA Div. 4 State Tournament Bracket. They had a fast start to thank for that, jumping out to a 5-0 lead 10 minutes into the game.
Nantucket went on to win the game against the fifth-seeded Ipswich Tigers 9-5, clinching their first final four appearance in program history.
“I thought they played their hearts out,” head coach Jami Lower said. “There were some very specific goals we set yesterday like taking care of the ball, not letting our emotions rattle us knowing this was a physical team going into it, and just overall working together because passing is going to score goals. They did it, they were focused, and they wanted it so badly.”
That five goal surge was led by sophomore midfielder Emerson Pekarcik, who scored three goals in that span. Sophomore midfielder Bailey Lower and freshman midfielder Mayson Lower had the two other goals in that span.
Ipswich answered with a goal to make it 5-1 with 5:33 to go in the first half, but Bailey Lower was able to score her second of four goals on the day to make it 6-2 going into halftime.
It was an impressive first half for Nantucket, who stayed composed and calm despite the Tigers’ best efforts to get under their skin and draw penalties in the opening minutes. After the Whalers put the Tigers in a five-goal hole, Ipswich was forced to ditch the physical play. Combating that style of play has been the thorn in the side of this young, talented Whaler team, but this group continues to show more and more growth and maturity as each game passes by.
“They were able to stay calm while at the end it started to rattle them a little bit and we started to retaliate but I think I just told them at the beginning the referees are going to be there and they are going to officiate and make the right calls, just don’t retaliate, keep your head on your shoulders, and just stay focused, and they did,” Jami Lower said. “It was pretty awesome.”
Senior goalie Mimi Belanger was only credited with five saves, but each one was a timely stop and that number appeared to be higher than what was recorded. Her defense played calm in front of her as well, making it difficult for Ipswich to get much going on the offensive end even after their defense began to quiet Nantucket’s attack.
“Mimi had a great game,” Jami Lower said. “Some of those saves I was just like how the heck did she even do that? The pressure of all those eight-meter shots continuing to happen, then her defense just had her back too. There were so many opportunities and turnovers and they defense was able to get the ball back up to our offensive end. Mimi had a great game and I can’t think of anyone who didn’t have a good game. It was a total team effort.”
“If you could script a game, that is how I would have scripted it.”
The Tigers came out with energy and confidence to begin the second half. They scored 1:28 into the half to make it 6-2, but Bailey Lower once again answered with a timely goal just two minutes later to give Nantucket their five goal lead right back.
There was a seven minute lull before the next goal was scored, and it was freshman midfielder Maddie Lombardi who was able to find the back of the net with 13:54 to go in the game to make it 8-2.
The Tigers didn’t back down though, scoring the next two goals to make it an 8-4 game with 9:21 to go. But it was too little, too late. Despite an advantage in the time of possession department in the second half, the Whaler defense, anchored by Belanger in net, stood their ground.
Bailey Lower scored her fourth goal of the game with 2:50 to play. It was the dagger and while Ipswich scored once more in the final minute, it was Nantucket who celebrated following the game and earned the opportunity to play another game.
The Whalers now await the winner of the Round of Eight matchup featuring top-seeded Manchester Essex and ninth-seeded Mount Greylock. The final four game will likely be played on Thursday, but check back in with the Current either on our Instagram page or our website for updates as they become available.