Sometimes, the best thing that can happen to an undefeated team is to lose.
Coming off a 13-3 defeat at the hands of Douglas Freeman, Atlee girls lacrosse returned home Saturday to regroup, rebound, and fight a rival in the form of the Hanover Hawks. The Raiders raced to an early lead and never looked back, improving to 6-1 with a 13-1 win.
Sarah Columbo, who led Atlee with four goals, scored 24 seconds into the match. Her second goal, 9:52 into action, made it 4-0. By halftime, with a late goal flurry, the Raiders were out of reach at 10-0.
Columbo expressed the reality, and disappointment, of experiencing being on the other end of a lopsided margin.
“We’re always on the opposite end of games like that, we’re used to winning, and not used to being beaten by that much,” Columbo said. “The Freeman game was definitely a wake-up call. So at practice we talked about what we needed to work on, but to come out today with more emotion and more intensity.”
“Our biggest lesson from the loss was we have a lot of work to do on the basic fundamentals,” said Atlee head coach Tom Mackay. “We started out shaky today, but then we improved. We’re trying to make sure the execution on offense is always there, making the throws and catches that we need to make.”
Emily Smith, Sara Hatch and Jessica Sanfilippo found the back of the net twice for the Raiders, now 6-1. Savanah Dicken made seven saves in goal for the Raiders, while her counterpart for Hanover, Britany Woychak, had eight.
Hanover had multiple opportunities in the first half to break through and cut into what was then a more manageable 5-0 deficit, including a Kara Kane penalty shot with just under four minutes left to intermission that sailed just wide left. The Raiders doubled their scoreboard total in the final 3:04, kicked off by an unassisted tally by Haley Anna.
Mackay continued to call out plays and demand execution long after the outcome was in doubt, preparing Atlee for the homestretch of the regular season and their first-ever trip into the VHSL playoffs.
“We cleared the ball down the field today by throwing and catching. The girls got the message about how our offense works when we do that,” Mackay noted. “There were a lot of little things we didn’t do in the Freeman game that we corrected today.”
Atlee gets another test Thursday when they host Mills Godwin and must travel to James River May 7. Their shot at redemption against Douglas Freeman comes May 16 when they travel to face the Rebels to end the regular season.
The young Hawks, now just 2-2, start a stretch of eight games in 18 days when they host Hermitage Thursday. Undoubtedly, they’ll look forward to their own redemption when Atlee comes to Hanover May 10.