Returning to the more familiar St. Louis metropolitan area after a weekend trek to Chicago, the O’Fallon Township High School girls lacrosse team blasted Parkway South 13-0 to move above the .500 mark for the year and improve their overall ranking to #7 in the most recent Missouri polls.
The O’Fallon squad overwhelmed Parkway South with nine first half goals and cruised the rest of the way with a first half shutout effort by goal-keeper Cameron Harbour and an equally solid effort by her second half replacement Jess Camp. It was all about the offense in the first half for the Lady Panthers.
Georgie Gaab blasted three goals to pace the Panthers while sophomore Lizzy Bellina was the defensive star for Coach Rob Garrison’s squad, forcing turnovers which were converted into goals, continually expanding the OTHS lead.
“We learned some valuable lessons on our Chicago trip, and our girls immediately put those lessons into practice against Parkway South,” Garrison said. “Our defensive effort was exceptional as we put constant pressure on their attackers and forced turnovers which we were able to take advantage of. We are coming out of a stretch of games in which we were forced to play short-handed due to a rash of injuries. Several of our second tier players have stepped up and done an outstanding job keeping our heads above water until we are back to full strength.”
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The past week’s schedule began with a much closer contest, but the Lady Panthers were able to prevail, squeezing past Nerinx Hall 7-6.
Despite having two starting defenders on the sideline with injuries, the Lady Panthers held off a late charge by Nerinx Hall to preserve the victory.
The top offensive player for O’Fallon was Taylor Grout, who scored three critical goals to give the Lady Panthers an early lead.
Heading north over the weekend, the O’Fallon girls faced tough competition with contests against Lincolnway, Naperville North and Lyons Academy.
The Lady Panthers got off on the right foot with a 12-6 win over Lincolnway.
With two starting defenders still nursing injury and varsity goal-keeper Cameron Harbour out of commission with a concussion, Garrison’s team was still able to battle Lincolnway on even terms through the first half and put on a second half spurt to secure the win.
Leading the charge was junior Abby Wiedner who produced two goals and, according to Garrison, was tenacious on ground balls.
Junior varsity goal-keeper Jess Camp was called upon to fill in for the injured Harbour and came through with a solid performance, stopping several shots to help O’Fallon escape with the one goal victory.
Things got a little tougher for the OTHS girls after the Lincolnway triumph.
Next matched against Naperville North, the Lady Panthers battled valiantly before dropping a 12-10 decision.
Naperville bolted to a 5-0 lead after just five minutes of play, and the Panthers spent the rest of the game trying to scramble back into contention.
Jenn Greene led the charge with two goals, and Abby Wiedner was again solid on draw control; however, the initial lead was too much.
“Our team did a good job in coming back from the big deficit early, but it was a disappointing result because we ended up with a chance to win and didn’t finish,” Garrison said.
“Our overall inexperience played a factor in the outcome. We still were short varsity players due to injury, and against a quality team like Naperville North it showed.”
O’Fallon entered their final Chicago contest as a 10-point underdog to Lyons Academy, ranked in the top ten among Illinois schools. Lyons’ depth was a key factor in the game according to Garrison.
Playing with fresher legs, the Chicago school pounced on the Panthers, winning the game 15-6.
“We were facing our toughest opponent after already playing two games,” Garrison explained. “We could not keep up physically. They kept rotating in quality players, most of whom were skilled. We had players like Kaitlyn Shepherd, a senior who was used as a replacement in our early games, really step up and fill a need.”
The Lady Panthers were scheduled to play their Senior Night game on Wednesday of this week against Hazelwood West. Saturday the O’Fallon girls will travel to play John Burroughs.