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Lady Tiger laxers flex guns on Kenston

Published in The Chagrin Valley Times
May 3, 2018
Tony Lange

Despite a rough three-game skid over the weekend, the Chagrin Falls girls lacrosse team returned to the field to flex its regional muscle during a 24-4 home win against Kenston on Monday night at C.S. Harris Stadium.

Leading up to the Kenston game, Chagrin Falls lost a 12-5 home battle against Columbus St. Francis DeSales on Friday night – the team the Lady Tigers defeated, 9-8, in overtime, during the Division II state semifinals last season.

And then Chagrin Falls lost a 5-3 battle against Worthington Kilbourne and a 14-1 affair against defending Division I state champion Upper Arlington (14-0) on Saturday.

“We had a rough weekend,” Chagrin Falls first-year head coach Chris Gellin said. “We had DeSales on Friday, a really good team, we had Kilbourne Saturday morning and then Upper Arlington the same day, which was sort of the trifecta. I think we were overwhelmed initially by DeSales, but hopefully we’ll see them later in the playoffs.

“Kilbourne is really the one that sort of bothers me. I think we could have walked away with that one. It was a 5-3 game, and I just feel like we hit the pipe a couple times and missed some opportunities. And Upper Arlington – it is what it is. They’re one of the best teams in the Midwest. So, it’s always good for the girls to get exposed to that this late in the season. That’s why we sort of really focused on trying to hit on all cylinders against Kenston.”

With six straight Division II state final-four appearances, including state runner-up campaigns the past three years, the Lady Tigers aren’t used to losing. But, with the schedule they play, three-game skids aren’t completely out of the ordinary. In fact, Chagrin Falls lost three straight games just last season.

Although the first half of the DeSales game got away from the Lady Tigers, 8-1, they regroup and played a 4-4 second half, and then they held a high-powered Kilbourne team to just five goals the next day.

“Our defense has done a tremendous job, even if you watch the second half of the DeSales game, they really, really are playing great,” Gellin said. “Coach (Mark) Razavi does a great job with them, they’re very cohesive, and they’ve been carrying us our last couple games. So, to hold a team like Kilbourne to five goals is an accomplishment.”

Senior defenders Maddie Miralia and Bella Beg, junior defenders Avery Houston and Livi Andresen, and junior goalie Celeste Bunker stepped up to the plate.

But after giving up 14 goals in the loss to Upper Arlington, the Lady Tigers no doubt put Kenston on the receiving end of a grudge game on Monday.

“We went 0-3, and that was really hard on all of us,” Bunker said. “And we just wanted to really come back and put together a strong win. So, we came out with our head on strong and we just really wanted to come out and crush them in the first half, and I think we did that.”

Chagrin Falls took a 14-3 lead at intermission, before cruising to the 24-4 victory.

Undefeated in Division II, Region 6 action this season, the Lady Tigers remain the team to beat in Northeast Ohio, as they gear to chase their seventh straight region crown this postseason.

Propelling the Lady Tigers’ offense in the win against Kenston were a trio of sophomore midfielders: Mia Razavi tallied four goals, four assists, four draw controls and three groundballs; Anna Gellin recorded four goals, two assists, two draw controls and two ground balls; and Creagan Mee registered six goals, six draw controls and six groundballs.

“We definitely needed a boost of confidence after the weekend,” Razavi said. “Upper Arlington was a team that never quit, and that’s basically what we tried to do in our game against Kenston. No matter if we were up by 10, it’s 0-0 always and you just have to keep going and keep playing like it’s 0-0 – never give up.

“So, even though we hate Upper Arlington after that loss, we really tried to model what they did and how hard they worked.”

Also producing offensively, junior attacker Kelly Wynveen finished with three goals, two assists, three draw controls and two groundballs; senior attacker Hannah Ducas had three goals; junior attacker Reagan Dowling recorded two goals and an assist; senior attacker Jillian Diedrich had two goals and two groundballs; and junior attacker Emma Orazen added a goal and two assists.

Overall, the Lady Tigers had eight goal scorers with sophomore middy Gellin finishing the lone tally from the free position. Eleven of Chagrin’s goals were assisted, which has been a point of emphasis this season.

“I’ve always tried to be a player that looks to assist, and I think it’s really important to keep your head up on offense,” Razavi said about leading the way with four helpers. “And against Kenston we got a chance to run a new offense, so instead of just driving we got to look for the open player. It’s important to look for your adjacent players and look to feed.”

With the win, Chagrin Falls improved to 7-5, while the Lady Bombers dropped to 6-6.

While it was a lopsided victory, the majority of Chagrin’s wins this season have been hard-fought games, including a 13-12 triumph against Walsh Jesuit, a 12-11 win against Shaker Heights, an 11-6 victory against region foe Hathaway Brown and a 12-6 win against Cincinnati Sycamore.

“Putting a win on the board against Kenston was really important for us,” coach Gellin said. “If you look at our schedule going out, there’s really no layups. So, our goal was to really eliminate turnovers, try to have as many assisted goals as we could, have our defense play great again. And, when you get into a situation like that, we’re trying to get everyone in and get time, because the playoffs are right around the corner.”

The Lady Tigers’ lineup doesn’t lighten up this week, however, as they hit the road to take on Division I, Region 2 favorite Massillon Jackson (9-2) at 6:45 p.m. Thursday – the Lady Polar Bears were state runners-up last season – before heading west to take on Division II, Region 5 favorite Rocky River (13-2) at 7:15 p.m. Monday.

And Chagrin concludes its regular season against an always-tough-to-beat Medina team at 6:15 p.m. May 12 at C.S. Harris Stadium.

“We want to play the bigger teams, because we believe playing them will make us better and prepare us more for future games,” Bunker said. “So, we like to play DI teams and the best teams around so we can not only improve our game, but so we push ourselves to work harder for what we want to achieve.”

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