By: Jeff Woods
Kentucky Country Day’s lacrosse team earned their fourth straight state title, fending off Sacred Heart 14-8 Thursday night.
“We have a bunch of kids who work their butts off and who had a lot of poise today,” said KCD head coach Pat McAnulty. “They came back so hard on us and it was a great game. Two great programs and I’m just glad we got the win today.”
The Bearcats were led by junior Sophia Sparks, who scored a game-high four goals. Junior Lucy Poindexter and senior Hadley Jackson each finished with three goals and junior goalie Macy Fugitte received state tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
“I have never felt so much energy just coming from being able to get the ball in the goal,” said Sparks. “It just felt so amazing. I have no words to describe how awesome it was.
“We’ve fought so hard this season for this and I think we really deserved it tonight. It is such an amazing win for us.”
KCD started the second half with a commanding 10-3 lead, but the Valkyries mounted a furious rally and scored five unanswered goals to pull within two.
“We dug a hole a little deep in that first half. We weren’t working as a team,” said Sacred Heart head coach Dennis Thurman. “At the half, I told them we have nothing to lose and let’s just go out and have fun. We had a couple of good draws right off the bat, got us a couple of goals and that lifted our spirits.”
Sacred Heart’s surge was powered by freshman Julia Jardina and senior Tara Johnson, who both scored two goals early in the second half. The Valkyries also held the Bearcats scoreless for more than 17 minutes. KCD finally broke through with Sparks’ fourth goal of the night with 7:48 to go. The Bearcats scored three more times in the final four minutes to seal the win.
“Momentum is a real thing and things can slip away very quickly. They won the draw and they pushed it and we got tight,” said McAnulty. “They dominated possession for so much of that second half. Finally, we get that one goal and we took a deep breath. I think that put us back up three so it was big.”
“I was thinking I need to score this ball. I have to get the ball in the goal. It was like life or death in that moment. I just need to get that ball in the goal,” said Sparks.
KCD opened the first half on fire. After Sacred Heart took a quick 1-0 lead, the Bearcats answered with four goals in less than four minutes. They also closed the first half with four straight scores to stretch their advantage to seven at halftime.
“They’re so good on the draw it’s unbelievable. Their ability to get possession early in the middle dictates the whole game,” said McAnulty. “We just wanted to push the pace. We thought we could match up well, our offense against their defense, so we just wanted to go as fast as possible and try to score some easy goals before they set up on defense.”
For the Valkyries, state runner-up was not the ultimate goal. But for a program on its fifth different coach in five seasons, Sacred Heart represented itself well.
“Part of our motto this year was enjoy the journey and respect the process,” said Truman. “That’s the best we can play right there. The girls understood that and they respected it throughout the year and in the end, we just came up a little short.”