CROSS RIVER, N.Y.— To find evidence of the progress of John Jay-Cross River’s girls lacrosse team, all you have to do is look at its three games with Somers this season.
The Indians beat the Tuskers by just a goal on April 24. A week later they defeated Somers 13-8 in their second regular season meeting.
Then, in the Class B sectional quarterfinals, second-seeded John Jay cruised past No. 7 Somers 15-5 on May 19.
“They were mentally and physically prepared to take the field today,” John Jay coach Stacey Wierl said. “They wanted to show the amount of growth and improvement that we’ve made throughout this season. We felt it as a team how much we’ve improved and it was important to demonstrate that. “
John Jay was in control from the start, jumping out to a 6-0 lead. Tyman Cronin scored the first of her four goals to start the run just 45 seconds into the game.
“We came out really intense,” Cronin said of the strong start. “Our re-defend was really important. Every time they got the ball we fought so hard to get it back. We really limited their time on offense because we had the possession for most of the game.”
Cara O’Reilly made it 2-0 a minute later.
“We’ve made so much progress,” said O’Reilly, who had one goal, one assist, five interceptions and six draw controls. “This is honestly a whole new team coming out here. I’m really proud of this group and I think that everyone had such a positive attitude coming into this game.”
Charlotte Wilmoth, who also had four goals, scored on a feed from Cameron Crawford (1G, 2A) to make it 3-0. Jenna Giardina (3G, 1A, 4 interceptions, 3 caused turnovers) sprinted in and scored. Crawford stole the ball and found Wilmoth in front for another goal. Lily Preis capped off the run, extending the lead to 6-0 with 15:57 left in the first half.
Giardina scooped up a loose ball and scored with 28.4 seconds left in the first half to send John Jay into the break with a commanding 11-3 lead.
John Jay won 14 out of 22 draws and collected 12 ground balls. The Indians forced nine turnovers. Many of the turnovers were created on the re-defend, leading to easy goals.
“It’s really just the hustle and the intensity,” Cronin said. “We have a saying, ‘Never let down.’ When one of us loses the ball, all of us as a team—all 12 of us on the field and on the sideline—we all motivate each other to get it back and to keep working hard.”
Wierl said the re-defend was a big focus in practice in the weeks leading up to sectionals.
“What’s important about the way we play defense is that we start in the offensive end of the field,” the coach said. “That re-defend occurs as soon as the goalie makes the save or the outlet pass is made. We saw it come to fruition today.”
The Indians had a letdown in a 13-9 loss to Brewster where they gave up a halftime lead on May 7. They weren’t about to let that happen this time, O’Reilly said.
“We knew coming into this game that Somers is a really good team and they’re not going to let down,” O’Reilly said. “We needed to stay composed and focused. We have a play called ‘chaos’ and now we call it ‘focus chaos’ where we keep our head in the game and only make good passes. I think all of us were really hyped for this game and we didn’t want to let down.”
Mia DiChiara added one goal for the Indians (14-3). Brianna Garofolo made three saves.
“We have a lot of really strong underclassmen—juniors, sophomores and even some freshmen who are stepping up,” Cronin said of the team’s success this season. “I think that next year we’re going to be an even better team. We’re all going to keep working hard in the offseason because we all love lacrosse so much.”
John Jay was scheduled to host third-seeded Lakeland/Panas on May 21 in the semifinals. A win there puts the Indians in the finals today at 5 p.m. against either defending champion Yorktown or Fox Lane at Torne Valley Sports Complex in Rockland County. The Indians’ last Section 1 title came in 2013.
“Things seem to be clicking at the moment so we’re going to continue to try to ride this wave through the playoffs,” Wierl said.