After having the official start to their 2015 season postponed several times due to inclement weather, the O’Fallon High girls lacrosse team made up for lost time this past week and raised the stress levels of their fans and the Panther coaching staff.
The OTHS girls completed the 4-game run with a 2-2 mark—a record that elicited a positive response from their coach, Rob Garrison.
“The quality of the competition our girls have faced has been outstanding, and the effort of our team has been equal to the task,” Garrison said.
In the Panthers’ season-opener against Lafayette High school, the O’Fallon girls were faced with the task of upending a team that finished last spring as the No. 3 ranked team in the state of Missouri. Playing in their first game and facing a formidable foe, the Panthers showed signs of some first game jitters, resulting in what Garrison described as a “less than stellar” first half. Misplays and a tentative offensive approach caused O’Fallon to fall behind early, but, according to Garrison, his squad turned things around completely in the second half. Freshman Alexis “Georgie” Gabb banged in two goals as an invigorated O’Fallon offense challenged Lafayette in the final minutes, falling two goals short, 7-5. Sarah Padilla, Jordan Pate and Taylor Grout each scored single goals.
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O’Fallon registered their first victory of the year in their next outing against Eureka. The Panthers found themselves quickly on the short end of 4-1 score, but senior Pate helped turn the momentum toward the OTHS bench with a series of outstanding plays. Pate ended the day with two goals and one assist. Additionally, according to Garrison, Pate’s ability to control the draw led to O’Fallon’s ability to control the pace late in the game. Defensively, the O’Fallon girls were equally impressive. The OTHS defense allowed only 13 shots on goal, led by a stellar effort from junior Kayla Smith. Rallying from the early deficit, the Panthers charged into the lead and completed the comeback to gain a 9-8 win.
It was out of the frying pan and into the fire for the O’Fallon girls when they hosted northern power Glenbrook North.
“This was a tough team,” Garrison said. “They had the deepest bench of any team we have played. The Chicago teams are all like that because they have established programs. Athletically, they had an advantage, but our girls made up for it with grit and determination. Jordan Pate was a driving force for us, and our defense held them to just 14 shots on goal.”
Pate scored seven goals in the contest; however, when the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard clock, Pate’s super day and a solid defensive effort overall were not enough as Glenbrook North defeated the Panthers 12-10.
The Panthers evened their record at 2-2 in their most recent contest, an 8-7 win over Kirkwood. O’Fallon blitzed its opponents early, scoring three goals during the first four minutes of the first period. Kirkwood finally recovered from O’Fallon’s early scoring blitz, knotting the score. The game evolved into a see-saw battle with the Panthers gaining a late advantage that preserved the victory.
“We lost to Kirkwood last year, so our girls were really motivated,” Garrison said. “We had an empty net situation with only a few seconds remaining, and the defense was able to apply enough pressure on the ball to force a pass that saved the win.”
More thrills and spills are scheduled for the Lady Panthers this week as they will face Missouri power Nerinx Hall before a weekend trip to the Kansas City area to face St. Theresa Academy and Lee’s Summit.