The girls lacrosse team has had to deal with a gruesome schedule to begin their season. Through six games they have yet to play a game at home, and the matchups have featured some larger schools with a pattern of success.
The Whalers faced the Lexington Minutemen on the road Saturday afternoon, a Div. 1 school, and found themselves in a back and forth matchup. Behind nine goals by junior midfielder Emerson Pekarcik and six goals and six assists from junior midfielder Bailey Lower, the Whalers walked away with an 18-15 victory.
"I mean I am so proud of them," head coach Jami Lower said. "The fact that it is six games in a row away, not small distances and just the conditions we have been playing in and how hard they have been working, I just can't speak highly enough about each and every one of them."
"We didn't really know what to expect this year. We graduated four pretty significant seniors and had some other losses when we lost Hannah (Evens, defender who went to prep school and verbally committed to Marquette) - this schedule has been harder too. It has just been more of a grind. They've just worked extremely hard. The difference between our game against Wayland and Saturday's game is just how much our team has come together. Our defense is finding its stride."
The Whalers took a quick 2-0 lead in the game thanks to one goal apiece from Lower and Pekarcik in the first minute of the game. But the Minutemen bounced back and scored four unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead with 18:44 left in the first half.
Lexington would eventually build a 9-8 lead and take it into halftime. The lead was short-lived once the second half began thanks to another Lower goal and junior attacker Cydney Mosscrop's lone goal on the day. That made it a 10-9 game early in the second half.
Lexington regained the lead to make it 13-12 with just over 12 minutes to go, but once again the Whalers answered and scored the games next three goals to make it 15-13 with under five minutes to play.
"The resilience was amazing. I honestly don't know how they did it," Jami Lower said. "These girls were being pressured so hard because (Lexington) had fresh legs and we didn't. To be able to sustain that is really just next level. It is crazy these girls can do that and continue to play at that kind of level and with that kind of intensity."
With the score 16-14, the Whalers were in need of a stop with Lexington in possession of the ball. A timeout was called, and junior goalie Claire Misurelli got an encouraging message from assistant coach Paul Cronin.
"He said we don't care about the 14 goals they have scored, we just need one big save right here," Lower said. "And sure enough Claire went out there and made a huge save for us, which led to us being able to go up the field and score to make it 17-14. Claire is owning the position. She has had to face some tough competition and she is new to the position. We also have a brand new defense in front of her that is continuing to improve."
"She is so athletic and she is only going to get better. Also the thing that is so unfair to her is we play all these away games on turf, but we practice on grass. She is practicing hard and trying to get this position down, but we can't practice on the turf because it is filled. As the game goes on she adjusts though and makes stops when we need them later on. I envision her doing great things moving forward."
The Whalers won the game 18-15. A hard fought victory that improved their record to 4-2. They immediately shift their attention to their league rival, the Sandwich Blue Knights, who will be visiting Nantucket on Tuesday for a 4 p.m. game.
The Blue Knights are 6-1 this season. The two teams have one common opponent this season: the Barnstable Red Hawks. Nantucket beat the Red Hawks 20-8 on April 11 while the Blue Knights beat Barnstable 16-7 on April 13.