(Cover photo credit: Jason Ence)
Kentucky Country Day cruised to a spot in the Kentucky Scholastic Lacrosse League state championship game, as hat tricks from Madison Mitzlaff and Lulu Lavin helped them rout Ballard 10-0 in the semifinal on May 23 at KCD’s campus.
Mitzlaff’s goals helped her set a new school record for most career goals. It also gave KCD a chance to repeat as state champions as they face Louisville Collegiate on May 25.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Mitzlaff on breaking the record. “It’s such an honor. I was aware (of the record). I’m a very competitive person and I was keeping track.”
KCD jumped out in front with three goals in the first ten minutes (Mitzlaff, Emily Harrison, and Isabella Tacogue). All three goals came from long spells of possession and pressure, as the Bearcats pinned Ballard in their end of the field.
A fourth goal was scored by Lavin, and a fifth was scored by Mali Pustow with four minutes remaining. They had at least three other shots either saved at point-blank range or ring off the goal.
The speed and depth of KCD was obvious from the start, as they poured wave after wave at Ballard. Anytime Ballard would force a turnover, the Bearcats would swarm down the field and get set up on defense before the Bruins could get set up on offense.
The hosts would score just over a minute into the second half, as Mitzlaff scored from an open play. The goal made her the all-time leading scorer in KCD history. She tallied her two hundred and thirty-third goal of her career.
The game slowed down a bit in the beginning of the second half. KCD took their time to work the ball around, conserving energy and burning out the clock. However, a turnover by Ballard led to a break, and Lavin scored her second goal of the game to make it 7-0 with 12:55 left in the game.
Ballard’s Abigail Goldberg came into goal to replace Sara Shawver following the score, as they hoped to stem the tide.
Mickey Rice made it 8-0 with seven minutes remaining – another speed run into the area and an easy shot on goal. Then, a minute later, it was a 9-0 lead when Lavin completed her hat trick with a spectacular shot in the upper corner from range.
With two minutes to go, Mitzlaff added to her record; her hat trick goal made it 10-0 and caused a running clock to see out the remainder of the match.
KCD’s goalkeeper Annie Scharf was terrific in net, making multiple saves and preventing Ballard from gaining any momentum in the game. She made a terrific save on an open play shot, as well as a few tough saves in the final minutes. For Scharf, keeping the shutout meant a lot to her.
“It is the greatest feeling ever, especially during such a big game,” she said. “It feels really good to know my offseason work and coming back from my ACL has all paid off.”
For head coach Patrick McAnulty, the big win still has him concerned for the final, but he is confident in his team.
“I don’t think it was our cleanest performance, but in these pressure situations, it can get sloppy,” he said.
He was also very happy for Mitzlaff, a player he has coached since middle school, to get the scoring record.
“She’s got the work ethic to match with her skill, and she’s a very precise sniper. She could have scored way more, but her minutes get cannibalized a bit.”
For Ballard, it was a tough way to end the season.
“Obviously it is not the end result we had hoped for, but just to get here to the final four for the second straight year is awesome,” head coach Jamie Redding lamented after the game. “In the midfield, we kind of caved a bit. We dropped balls and threw stuff away, and their midfield pressure was what got us this game.”
Redding said the team will return a lot of key contributors next year, however.
“Definitely a bright future for these girls, and hopefully get them next year.”
As for the final, Coach McAnulty is excited for the chance to play a team other than Sacred Heart.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun to have something different because Sacred Heart and KCD have met in the last five state championships,” he said after the game. The players echoed their sentiment, and all are looking forward to a great atmosphere.
The state lacrosse championship game is set for May 25 at 7pm at KCD.