Three of the Lady Trojans’ losses were to out-of-state teams. The other two were to Area 2AAAAAA rivals Walton and Milton towards the end of the regular season.
After avenging its loss to Walton with a 13-11 semifinal-round win Tuesday, getting revenge on Milton (17-3) would be the ultimate feather in Lassiter’s cap.
“We went into the Milton game pretty excited,” Lassiter coach Faith Harmeyer said. “But our starting goalie, Lauren Wetherhead, went down maybe 20 minutes before game time. We put a freshman goalie in, Maddie Scholar, who had only been in goal for three days.
“So, coming out of that game, considering the situation, we knew we could play with Milton. We knew we were up against some strong shooters, but we walked away from that game not feeling defeated, but feeling like we could definitely play with them because we hung with them for a while.”
Milton won’t go down easily, however.
Winners of seven of eight state championships since girls lacrosse became a sanctioned sport, the Lady Eagles have made it a habit of playing well when it matters most. As a result, Lassiter will need for several players to step up and play to their best potential.
Wetherhead, who has started in goal for Lassiter throughout the playoffs, will be back in the net today. Leading goal-scorer and draw control specialist Cydney Tutchton will also need to be effective, as will attacker Jill Rankin and defenders Alex Fusco and Erin Gustafson.
“We’re really depending on those guys to step up their games for us and make sure everyone is on the same page,” Harmeyer said. “We feel like we’re pretty much on the same level as (Milton) now, which is what we’ve been fighting for for years — to get up to their level. I believe this is the first year where we’re as evenly matched as we’ve ever been. I obviously think we can go goal for goal for them.”
Harmeyer’s confidence stems from her scheduling approach at Lassiter, which included playing tough out-of-state teams from the mid-Atlantic — something Milton has done for years — and from what the Lady Trojans learned in their 14-5 to Walton during the regular season.
“We learned more following the Walton loss,” Harmeyer said. “I think that was really the turning point for us and our season because nobody played well that game. Nobody did a thing the entire game. They walked away from that pretty upset with themselves. They bumped up their intensity at practice and really wanted to get that one back.
“That game, combined with our tough scheduling, has helped in our playoff run. The girls’ confidence is high, they’re playing hard and they’re playing really well together. They were actually commenting on that during practice (Friday), about how comfortable they are with each other, and they know where each other is. They’re all just clicking really well together now. The girls are really loose and relaxed, but ready and excited.”
Today marks Lassiter’s first trip to the state title game since 2010, when it lost to Milton.
Johnna Fusco, who was a member of that team, wouldn’t mind being on the winning end of the game this time around.
“She wants to get that one back,” Harmeyer said. “She was on that (2010) team as a freshman then, and she’s a senior this year. She’s pretty much the best player on our team and she’s ready to go.
“We think we should have been in the state championship game the past two years, too, but for some reason, we just dropped the ball on it. We only have three seniors, and it would be nice for them to finish on top.”