CORTLANDT, N.Y. – North Salem saved its best play for the final few minutes on Wednesday afternoon at Walter Panas High School.
But unfortunately for the Tigers, the furious rally was not enough to overcome such a big deficit.
Junior Lydia Werlau scored seven goals, but the offense of traditional power Lakeland/Panas was dominant in its 15-12 win on April 20.
Freshman Grace Curran flourished with her three goals and five assists for North Salem. Haley Vermette also pitched in with an assist. Hannah Pastore scooped three groundballs. Katie Wagner and Muiread Heffernan each picked up two groundballs.
North Salem trailed by a hefty seven goals with 10:30 left in the game. The Tiger defense buckled down from there, allowing only one goal for the remainder of the contest.
“Sydney (Barrella) is a defender that we put on the draw circle today who had a lot of draw controls, which is something different for us,” North Salem coach Christine Werlau said. “She also had her first career goal today too. She did a fabulous job.”
North Salem netted five more goals in the contest, including two in the final minute. Though a rough start combined with poor defense in the early portion of the second half equated to a loss for the Tigers.
“Unfortunately we started with five unaccounted goals in the beginning,” coach Werlau said. “It’s something that we have been working on. We had too many turnovers in the beginning that resulted in their goals. They had a very good transition that we were not addressing.”
North Salem provoked a tidal wave of offense late in the first half to prevent a lopsided victory for the Rebels. While behind 6-1 with less than eight minutes remaining in the first, the Tigers broke out by scoring four goals in about three minutes.
“Our girls challenged them and stepped it up a notch,” coach Werlau said. “At the end of the game, we did the same thing. Some of the girls realized that we should not stop playing and that there is a lot of time left. You can score a lot of goals in a short period of time.”
Lakeland/Panas controlled possession for most of the game by winning more draws. The Rebels milked the clock while drawing fouls to be granted eight-meter shot attempts during the second half.
“The defense needs to work on doubling late when we are in pressure situations,” coach Werlau said. “Our attack made the defense work too hard today. There were too many turnovers.”
North Salem (3-5) is learning something new about the game every day.
“Every game is a new game,” coach Werlau said. “We are going to learn something from every single game. Paige Werlau had a different game since she was face-guarded. With that being said, other girls stepped up to the plate. We learned that we have another weapon with Sydney on defense.”
Some of these improvements come down to sheer effort and mental toughness.
“I can see non-verbal cues that some girls are getting frustrated and giving up,” coach Werlau said. “When we transition the ball it is so important that the attack is moving. If they are not getting the ball they need to keep moving. We lost the ball a lot on attack in the back of the net. That’s not a pressure situation.”
North Salem fell to Bronxville 17-4 on April 22. The game was called due to thunder with 13:48 remaining.
The Tigers host Beacon at 4:30 p.m. on April 28, take on visiting Putnam Valley at 2 p.m. on April 30 and travel to Pawling for a 4:30 p.m. contest on May 2.
“Every game that we have played so far has been a pretty big challenge,” coach Werlau said. “This is going to help them down the line. We are working on things game to game. We’ll just keep forging ahead.”