The O’Fallon High girls lacrosse team completed their most recent stretch of games in impressive fashion, winning three of four contests to improve to 8-5 with one more regular season game scheduled against St. Joseph’s Academy. After the faceoff with St. Joseph’s, Coach Rob Garrison’s charges will travel to Chicago to compete in first round post-season action in the IHSA-WLA tournament.
The series of games coming down the home stretch of the 2016 campaign began, arguably, with the Lady Panthers’ best win of the season.
O’Fallon had never defeated John Burroughs over a span of seven years; however, with exceptional performances turned in by sophomores Lizzy Bellina and Georgy Gaab and a significant assist by junior Taylor Grout, the OTHS girls defeated the perennial Missouri powerhouse, 11-8.
Trailing by one goal at halftime, the Lady Panthers came out firing — a characteristic that Coach Rob Garrison has seen displayed throughout the season.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
“Our team has risen to challenges in big games this year,” Garrison said. “John Burroughs has historically been a big nemesis for us, but after playing them tough in the first half, our girls began to believe that they could compete with them, and the second half proved that to be true.”
Bellina, a left-hander, scored five goals, and Gaab played what Garrison characterized as a “flawless” game, scoring two goals on two shots along with five draw controls, four ground balls and one assist.
Junior Taylor Grout fired in three additional goals in three shots to lead the O’Fallon charge to victory.
“[Bellina] caused major problems for the Burroughs defense with her left hand shot,” Garrison said. “They did not have an answer for her the whole game.”
A usual by-product of youth is inconsistency, and the Lady Panthers, unfortunately, fell victim to it in their next outing against Webster Groves.
An early 3-1 O’Fallon advantage disappeared primarily due to unforced passing errors by the O’Fallon girls.
Webster Groves capitalized on fast break opportunities to forge into an 8-4 lead midway in the second half.
The OTHS squad finally attempted a valiant comeback in the final five minutes, but it proved too little and too late as they fell 8-7.
The clearer focus paid immediate dividends for the O’Fallon girls as they swept to back-to-back wins over Parkway West and Villa Duchesne.
Facing Parkway West, a team comparable to Webster Groves in most recent Missouri polls, O’Fallon’s sophomore stalwarts ignited the Lady Panther attack to an eventual 11-4 rout.
Georgy Gaab fired in five goals, Bellina scored twice, and junior Jen Greene added four goals and two assists. The Lady Panthers wrapped up the week with 14-5 triumph over Villa Duchesne.
The contest was O’Fallon High’s Senior Night, and Garrison made sure his senior athletes did the bulk of the heavy lifting.
Sprinting to an early lead, the OTHS girls took control of the game with a balanced scoring attack, spearheaded by Kayla Smith, who ended the day with two goals, five ground balls and two draw controls.
Bellina continued her assault on the goal with three scores.
Senior Drew Tarran, normally a premier defender for the Panthers, made the most of the final home game of her career by scoring a goal.