The Kell girls jumped out to a five-goal lead late in the first half in Tuesday’s Class A-AAAAA lacrosse semifinal against Blessed Trinity, but the Lady Titans went on a second-half scoring run to get within a goal with just over 10 minutes left to play.
Kell, however, never allowed Blessed Trinity to tie it in the final 10 minutes of the game, and the Lady Longhorns will have the chance to play for their first state championship after winning 12-11 at Cobb Energy/Corky Kell Stadium.
After beating one Area 2A-AAAAA rival, Kell (19-1) will have to beat another — Westminster — in Saturday’s championship, which the Lady Longhorns will host. The teams played one before in the regular season, with Kell winning 14-9 on April 17.
“I’m just so proud of the girls,” Kell coach Todd Utt said. “We got up early on them, and I am proud of our girls for fighting with Blessed Trinity. It could have gone either way. This is the biggest win in our program’s history.”
Leslie Ferguson scored a team-high five goals for Kell. Haley Swift and Izzy Palermo each had three goals, with Palermo also dishing out three assists, and Jessica Armstrong added a goal.
The win came down to Kell’s defense, which gives up an average of 6.9 goals per game.
Blessed Trinity (12-7) had a free-position scoring opportunity with 7 seconds left to play. Goalkeeper Hannah Rosen caught Blessed Trinity’s Regan McGovern’s shot attempt for her 10th save, and she held the ball as the clock expired.
“I was just praying to God, man,” Rosen said. “It was a miracle, but we deserved it so much.”
A minute earlier, Kell appeared to be in the clear when Riley Proshek scooped up a groundball off a missed shot by Blessed Trinity’s Mary Markwordt and passed it up field to Ferguson, who broke away from traffic to the Lady Titans’ side of the field.
With a minute left to play, Kell needed to hold on to the ball, but Blessed Trinity swiped it away and was back on the offensive with 33 seconds left to play. The Lady Longhorns, however, kept them in check until their free-position scoring opportunity in the final seconds.
After Kell won the opening draw to start the second half, Swift scored for a 10-6 lead.
Afterwards, Kell started making errors with possession the ball, and whenever Blessed Trinity was on the offensive, it found ways to score. The Lady Titans scored three straight goals — the last of which when Payton Fadem ran around the net and through Kell’s defense — to cut the lead to 10-9 with 18:38 left.
Kell won the ensuing draw, hoping to get a much-needed goal out of it, but a bad shot attempt by Ferguson gave the ball back to the Lady Titans.
Afterwards, Kell made one of its better defensive stands of the game.
Rosen came through with two saves, the first coming on a free-position scoring opportunity. Kelsey Lowman intercepted a pass, but she wasn’t able to clear it out, and Blessed Trinity got it back. The Lady Titans took another shot that hit the post before Kell finally took possession.
That led to Palermo scoring a free-position goal for an 11-9 lead with 13:05 left. Blessed Trinity answered back 4 minutes later before Ferguson scored a much-needed insurance goal with 6:16 left after winning a groundball.
The Lady Titans scored one last time on a breakaway at the 4:55 mark to get back to within one.
“They wanted the game as much as we did,” Proshek said. “They were just as passionate as we were.”