By Jean DePlacido
---- — WINCHESTER — The road to the Division 2 North girls lacrosse title always seems to go through Winchester.
It did again yesterday, as Marblehead High found out.
The Magicians saw an early lead disappear quickly as the highly-skilled Sachems worked the transition game to perfection en route to their fourth straight North championship, courtesy of their 17-9 win.
It marked the second straight year the Sachems ended the Magicians’ season, having done so last year in the semifinals.
“We came here wanting to win, but we knew it would be tough because Winchester has a talented program and very knowledgeable coach in Suzanne Ontso,” said Marblehead (18-3-1) head coach Annie Pugh.
“I thought we played a very solid first half with ready sticks and controlled the ball, (but) we started to lose draws and lose our momentum in the second half. It’s tough to come back when you get down by a few goals. Part of the problem was our own transition to offense which was not there. Winchester’s speed all over the field was also a problem.”
The Magicians scored three quick goals to take a 3-1 lead with seven minutes gone. Meggie Collins was set up by Tyler Phillips to tie things up at 1-1 before Phillips scored the next two. The game was tied two more times before the Sachems began to take control with five unanswered goals to go ahead, 8-4, at the half.
Marblehead got off to a fast start in the second half on goals by Pamela Gregory, Cassie Rodgers and Kiley Fischer to cut the deficit to 8-7. Winchester captain Abby Wheeler added a free position goal, but Rodgers (3 goals, 1 assist) found the back of the net to once again bring Marblehead within a goal, 9-8.
From that point on the Sachems began to pull away; the Magicians had opportunities but trouble finishing as junior goalie Hallie Stone came up with several big saves to rob the visitors. The only goal Marblehead could score in the final 19 minutes was by Meggie Collilns (2 goals, 1 assist) with 12:39 remaining.
“We made a few adjustments at halftime that made the difference,” said Ontso. “We needed to be better on draw control, and also made a quick adjustment on the passes to get open more.”
Hennessey (5 goals) led a balanced Winchester attack along with fellow senior captain Talene Bush (4 goals), Alaina Ewing (3 goals), Wheeler (2 goals, 2 assists), Lucy Hale (2 goals, assist) and Alex Miller (goal).
For the Magicians, Phillips had two goals and two assists, Gregory had a goal and an assist, and Kiley Fischer had one goal.