Blue Knights Keep D2 Title Streak Alive
WYOMING — From the first District 2 girls lacrosse tournament in 2011, Wyoming Seminary has been the class of the area.
In the early years, the Blue Knights’ march to gold was relatively unchallenged.
As time went on, new challengers arose and the gap between Sem and the field narrowed considerably. But ultimately, no one has successfully wrestling the crown away from the Blue Knights.
This year’s playoff path may have been Sem’s most difficult yet. After surviving a stern semifinal test for Lake-Lehman, the Blue Knights traveled to Wyoming Area on Friday for the Class 2A championship.
But once again, as it has every year since 2011, Sem’s reign continues.
The Blue Knights won a defensive battle, 6-4 over the Warriors, a victory made sweeter by the challenge overcome to achieve it.
“This year was one of the best ones, not only because it’s my senior year, but we really had to work for it this year,” goalie Mia Raineri said. “We want to come out here and put the stuff we work on in practice to work. I think this year proved we were really grinding for it with the other teams challenging us.
“We worked so hard for this one this year. We had so much competition coming in,” added senior Maaike Reitsma. “We knew Lehman and Wyoming Area were both up there, ready to win, ready to beat us. We knew we had a lot at stake and we knew we had to work as hard as we did.”
Friday’s win makes Sem 9 for 9 in District 2 championship games. As the level of play around the area rises, so does Sem’s desire to keep the streak in tact
“As the competition gets better around here, it gets more and more important to us to keep that win streak,” said junior Paige Parsons. “To win as a team, we have a new team, a young team. It was really a building year. We progressed over the season and it was a huge win for us and a really big accomplishment.”
The early minutes Friday were controlled by Wyoming Area. Two goals by Cassidy Orzel and one from Emma Kelleher gave the Warriors a 3-0 lead 7:29 into the game.
From there, Sem only allowed Wyoming Area one more goal the remainder of the game.
“Defense wins game,” said Sem sophomore Grace Parsons. “Mia in goal was saving things left and right. Emily Matthews, Maaike Reitsma, we have incredible defenders and as a unit we were really locking key players down.”
Sem came in expecting a defensive game and definitely got what it was looking for.
Falling into an early hole only strengthened the team’s resolve to lock down on defense which began to turn the game around.
“We knew our fundamentals had to be sound and do everything right and do it as a team,” Reitsma said. “We got ourselves together after their first three goals and scored four. From there we were on fire and had so much more possession.
“We got together as a team and decided this season, everything we worked so hard for wasn’t going to get thrown away. Right after their third goal, we got one, two, three all in a row. We got ourselves together, got our heads together and we were able to come out on top.”
Once Sem’s offense got going, the fire spread quickly. The Blue Knights scored three in a 37-second span — two from Christina Kilyanek and one from Grace Parsons.
Paige Parsons added another Sem goal before halftime and Grace Parsons scored one early in the second half for a 5-3 lead.
All the while, Wyoming Area’s offense was struggling to get good looks.
“Was happy to get out to a fast start, 3-0, they settled in their defense and started pressuring us different ways and we just couldn’t find an open shot,” Wyoming Area coach Carl DeLuca said. “We couldn’t find the back of the net. We got enough shots off but their goalie, got to give it to their goalie for making big saves.”
Raineri was nearly impenetrable. She allowed one more goal to Makenzie Switzer with 16:46 left that made it 5-4. But that was the last goal for the Warriors this year.
Raineri said she knew she had to be strong with the game so close and the fact that each shot could mean the difference between a win and a loss.
“There was a span of time where I just wasn’t getting shot on. I was thinking in my head, ‘When it comes down here, I hope I’m not cold,’” she said. “I tried to focus on the ball itself. Not pushing my team around so much, but just being myself and zoning on the ball because I knew each goal could be the difference.”
At the other end, Wyoming Area’s Mary Kate O’Brien played a strong game in her own right, keeping the Warriors in it until the end.
“Mary Kate kept us right in the game,” DeLuca said. “I got to think this was the lowest scoring game Sem had. Mary Kate played a great game, had a great playoff year this year.”
A big turning point came with 13:14 to play. A Sem goal that would’ve made it 6-4 was taken off the board for a penalty call.
Playing a man down, not only did Sem’s defense rise to the occasion, but the offense got a goal back with Kilyanek scoring her third.
“A key player getting a yellow card and going out, we need to know what to do together and work a man down,” Grace Parsons said. “A lot of our younger players stepped up and worked hard to be able to keep the control and be able to score.”
“I think its more of, we can’t let any other factors drive our game,” Paige Parsons added. “We play our game and can’t let the refs, the fans or anything else determine how we play our game. We used our skills and what we knew to be true about ourselves as players.”
Sem ate up most of the last few minutes possessing the ball offensively. Wyoming Area’s last chance to come back ended when Raineri turned away a free position shot with 2:30 left.
“I know we are pretty strong at possessing the ball,” Raineri said. “Going in I said, if I could just get us one more save. That’s what happened, it all worked out.”
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