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4th-quarter flurry propels University past Morgantown in Lauren’s Wish Game

MORGANTOWN — Two of the best girls’ lacrosse teams in the state met on Baker’s Ridge on Wednesday for the 2024 MoHawk Bowl between cross-rivals University and Morgantown.

A defensive game through three quarters turned into a shootout at the end as University (13-2) scored three goals in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to build the lead that resulted in the final 9-6 reading.

“It was a great game,” UHS coach Scott Stewart said. “It was a game of runs. We were very evenly matched, it just came down to the fourth quarter.”

UHS and MHS (8-4) were knotted 4-4 after the third quarter, but three quick goals from University’s Jillian Benn, Adrienne Reger and Anna Nichols put the Hawks up 7-4 with 9:36 remaining.

“We made a couple of quick changes on the draw and that’s what caused it,” Stewart explained. “I told the girls all along that if we were able to get possession, that’s what causes goals. We were able to get a couple of quick possessions and once we’re in the offensive end, our offense’s ability to score goals is second to none in the state.”

Morgantown’s Natalia Martinez found a goal on a breakaway two minutes later, but Nichols responded for UHS to maintain the three-goal, 8-5 advantage.

“At the end, you start seeing fatigue,” MHS coach Brian Reed said. “Both teams were a man down and we just couldn’t catch a break there at the end and that was how the chips fell.”

Martinez scored again just under the five-minute mark, her third of the game, and the Mohigans had a pair of good chances to cut the lead to one, but couldn’t find the back of the net again.

Benn scored the dagger for UHS with 30 seconds left for the final 9-6 score.

“There’s no quit in these girls and I owe that a lot to the seniors,” reed said. “I have six seniors who have decided to stick it through four different coaches.”

Morgantown’s Issy Grushecky scored the first goal of the night five minutes into the first quarter. University’s Anna McBee responded with two of her own, but Grushecky scored again to tie things 2-2. Martinez scored her first of the night and MHS led 3-2 after the first frame.

Benn scored the lone goal in the second quarter at the 8:31 mark. The Hawks actually scored two other goals in the period, but both were disallowed. The first for a dangerous shot penalty and it was ruled the second goal hadn’t gotten the shot off before the clock ran out.

Grushecky and McBee both completed their hat tricks in the third to tie the game 4-4 going into the fourth.

For UHS, McBee and Benn each finished with three goals, Nichols scored two and Reger had one. Olivia Stewart had two assists and Carly Greathouse had one. Lucy Lambert made two saves in net. 

For Morgantown, Grushecky and Martinez each had three goals and Bailey Howell had three assists. Goalie Miley Cooper was credited with nine saves.

Michael Cole with Lauren’s Wish speaks during halftime of the Morgantown vs University girls’ lacrosse game on Wednesday. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

Lauren’s Wish

Wednesday’s contest was dubbed the ‘Lauren’s Wish Game’ as both teams came together to support local non-profit Lauren’s Wish.

“It’s a great cause and we enjoy being part of it,” Stewart said. “It means so much to the community, so much to the girls, so much to the school, especially in the world that we’re in today.”

“It’s really important,” Reed added. “It means a lot that we can be a part of this night.”

Named for 2012 UHS graduate Lauren Cole, one of only three UHS girls’ lacrosse players to score 100 career goals, Lauren’s Wish was started by her father, Michael Cole, after Lauren passed away from fentanyl poisoning in 2020.

“It’s not a topic or subject people like to talk about,” Michael Cole said during a halftime speech. “It’s the worst epidemic that’s ever hit the United States, the fentanyl epidemic.”

Lauren’s Wish provides a safe space for individuals struggling with substance use disorder. Operating Hazel’s House of Hope out of the old Ramada Inn, Lauren’s Wish has 24 beds available for individuals who are seeking treatment placement.

Cole said they work with both Ruby Memorial Hospital and Mon Health Medical Center and have helped over 510 clients since opening in 2022. Lauren’s Wish also advocates for awareness of drug use by young people.

“This isn’t happening in dark alleys or under bridges,” Cole said, “This is happening in our homes, schools and workplaces.

“If you hear something or see something, say something. And receiving that information if it comes to you.”

Donations can be made and more information can be found at laurenswish.org.