UHS girls’ lax team knocks off Preston

KINGWOOD — They say that possession is 9/10 of the law, but when it comes to success in the game of lacrosse, the ratio might be even higher.

April 23, the University girls’ lacrosse team traveled to cool, breezy Preston High for a West Virginia Scholastic Lacrosse Association match, looking to duplicate the success they found against the Knights on April 10 during a 15-8 win, and the Hawks took care of business early, forging a quick 7-1 advantage in the first ten minutes on their way to a solid 16-7 victory.

And a big part of that win centered around winning draws, and first-year coach Kevin Armstrong credited his group of forwards including Sophie Armstrong, Olivia Wills, Ava Foreman, Sela Chico, and Mackenzie Slavensky for kick-starting the offense.

“We were pretty efficient with our draws, which really allowed us to control the game early,” Armstrong explained. “We wanted to get to our game quickly, and that was probably the best part of the day for us.”

UHS (10-3) was led on offense by Wills, who finished with four goals and an assist. Mallory Napolillo scored a hat-trick and added an assist, Jordyn Snider also netted three goals, while Slavensky and Armstrong each popped in a pair, and Foreman also found the back of the net for the Hawks.

The Knights (4-4) were paced by Hannah Rosenberger and Carlee Casteel, each with two goals, plus single tallies from Monica Bowers, Abigail Shellinburg, and Hannah Keener. PHS keeper Emilie Rothe stopped six shots, while Riley Phares and Abigail Cottrell combined for five saves for UHS.

Preston scored each of their seven goals on penalty situations, an encouraging result for the young Knights, according to fellow first-year coach Chris Gank.

“We’ve improved a lot this year, especially considering that we were winless the previous two seasons,” Gank said. “When we were aggressive, we found success. And that’s a big focus for us as we continue to build. We need to develop our basic skills, continue to communicate, and learn to share the ball better. But the biggest thing that separates the good teams is their confidence and aggressive play in all parts of the game. That’s what we’re striving for.”

For Armstrong, those penalty goals were a symptom of a lack of focus.

“It’s a big week for us, with games at Wheeling Park and Morgantown and a big home game against Fairmont Senior,” he said, “so I think we might’ve gotten a little distracted and a little lackadaisical. We know we can defend better with our feet than with our sticks, and we’ll certainly have to do a better job down the stretch. But the good thing is we know how to be better. We just have to go out and do it.”

University travels to Wheeling Park April 24 before hosting the Polar Bears on April 25, while the Knights play on the road at Harrison County on April 25, then return home April 30 to host Buckhannon-Upshur.

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