MEDFIELD, Mass. – Franklin did not follow the standard script on Monday night at Medfield High. Typically, girls’ lacrosse games are won by the team that has the ball the most. Coaches always preach winning draw controls and keeping possession, but the Panthers used a different formula to beat the Warriors.
Despite winning only 4-of-17 draws and spending long stretches of the game in the defensive zone, Franklin pulled out a 10-5 non-league victory over the perennial Div. 2 contender by hitting the Warriors with a series of quick counterattacks.
“I think that’s just a testament to our defense and our goalie,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino about the Panthers winning without having the ball for much of the game. “We can score quickly, but we’ve got to get better at those things.
“I said, we didn’t win the draws and we didn’t win possession of the game and we still somehow won, so imagine if we put it all together. We still have room to grow and improve.”
Franklin opened the scoring inside the opening minute with a lightning break that stemmed from a point-blank save by freshman Gianna Cameron (nine saves, including six in the first half). The ball quickly flew up field and Jette finished off the transition for a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Brooke Deady got a shot past Cameron only to see it carom back off the crossbar. Franklin scooped up the ground ball and took off on another fast break that led to an eight-meter try for Erin Walsh. The freshman put it away and made it 2-0.
Medfield responded with goals by Jordan MacLean and Maggie McCarthy to tie the game up with 14 minutes left in the half.
The score stayed the same for seven minutes until Jette picked out a cutting Annie Walsh for the go-ahead goal. Medfield would get another long spell of possession to close out the half, holding the ball for several minutes, but only managed one shot off target and Franklin held firm to force a turnover and keep the lead.
When asked about the halftime conversation, Igoe Guarino said, “Get the ball more, so draws, which we didn’t do and we need to get better at that; 50-50 balls, which I thought we did better when it was on the ground; and just making our possessions count on offense because we didn’t have the ball a ton.”
The Warriors won the opening draw of the second half (and won 9-of-11 after the break) but the Panthers stole the ball and MacCallum turned it into a goal with a drive to her lefthand and bounced shot. Just 31 seconds later, after a rare draw control, the Panthers made it 5-2 on an Annie Walsh free position.
McCarthy scored again for Medfield to cut the lead back to two and then nearly added another just minutes later only to be blocked by quick reactions from Cameron. A quick outlet turned the momentum around, as Walsh fed Caroline Lounsbury down the middle for the goal.
“Gianna is a huge factor,” said Igoe Guarino of her freshman netminder. “Our defense in front of her is very good, but then she makes amazing saves and is the key to our transition. If we’re not winning draws then we’re counting on her to make big saves and she does.”
MacCallum scored her second with a drive off a free position and answered a Medfield goal with another lefty chance and low shot to the corner for an 8-4 lead. Walsh got her hat trick off an eight-meter try and after Medfield cut the lead back tok four, sophomore Halle Atkinson hit Jette in front for a backhanded, sidearm finish.
Igoe Guarino praised her team’s balance on the offensive end. She said, “We don’t rely on one person. I think we have a team where everyone is comfortable sharing the ball and putting it on a teammate’s stick to score. We’re trying to get everyone to see the open player and that’s why our breaks were so effective.”
With Monday’s win, the Panthers are now 11-1 on the season despite a roster filled with underclassmen and a schedule that featured some of the top teams in the state. On Monday, seven of Franklin’s 10 goals came from freshmen and sophomores and Igoe Guarino was pleased with the way the younger players were adapting to the varsity level.
“The underclassmen have done a really great job,” she said. “They’re still learning and we’re picking out a lot of things in film and practice and they’re improving every day but I think they’re handling the schedule well and I think the challenging games are the best types for getting better as individuals and as a team.”
Franklin will be back at home on Wednesday afternoon to host North Andover in a rematch of last year’s state semifinal.