High school girls lacrosse: Watertown hangs on to edge city rival IHC, 9-8

·5 min read

May 5—WATERTOWN — After seemingly having taken control earlier in the second half, Thursday night's finish for Watertown's girls lacrosse team against Immaculate Heart Central proved to be a close call along with a suspenseful ending.

The Cyclones had built a five-goal lead earlier in the half, but fended off a furious and determined charge by the Cavaliers, holding on to prevail, 9-8, in a Frontier League game played on a brisk evening at IHC.

Alexandra Macutek scored three goals and assisted on another to help pace Watertown, which improved to 6-5 overall, including 5-4 in league play.

"Yes, that was definitely a close one," Macutek, a junior midfielder, said. "This was not our cleanest day of lacrosse and I know that we expect more out of ourselves. But, a win's a win, we got the 'W' and we're going to go to practice tomorrow and work as hard as possible because we have to better against (Rome Free Academy) on Saturday and then we play IHC again on Monday. So, we've got to be more prepared."

Amalia Netto and Sienna Virga each contributed a pair of goals for Watertown, which led 6-3 at halftime.

"It was nerve-wracking," Netto said. "We've had times like this and games like this where it's been close, and I feel like we're all so in the moment ... and we responded well when we had to."

Sophomore Abby Bombard scored five goals and assisted on another to fuel the upset bid for IHC (4-7, 3-5).

The Cyclones led 7-3 on a goal from Macutek 33 seconds into the second half, and after Hannah Netto answered with a goal for the Cavaliers, Virga scored back-to-back goals to stake Watertown to a 9-4 edge, with her second tally coming with 21 minutes and 53 seconds remaining in regulation.

But the Cyclones did not score again and managed to hold off their rivals in the closing minutes.

"They're a great team, they worked really hard today," Macutek said of IHC. "They came to play and we have to match that intensity and be ready to play as well."

IHC responded by scoring the game's final three goals, including a tally from Bombard with 20:44 left and a goal from Jennah Netto with 19:04 remaining to draw within 9-6.

After Bombard scored again with 15:46 left, Watertown managed to kill off a two-minute man-up situation after it was assessed a penalty with 10:45 to play.

Later, Bombard converted on a free-position shot with 1:24 left, but the Cyclones made one final defensive stand to come away with the win.

"Honestly, this was not our best game," first-year Watertown coach Taylor Purvis said. "I wouldn't say that I was nervous that we were going to lose it, I had all the faith in my girls that we were going to come out with it. But we just didn't play our best game ... but we did survive."

"Our season hasn't been the most consistent, but sometimes we come ready to play and sometimes it's not consistent throughout the game, either," Amalia Netto said. "Today we had like our highs and our lows and our hustle was there, but we just need to clean up a few things that we're working on in practice."

Cavaliers sophomore goalie Piper Gonas made 13 saves, including totaling seven stops in the second half, to keep her team in the game.

"She killed it in there," IHC coach Lauren Girardi said of Gonas' performance. "Making just point-blank saves, she really saved us tonight."

On the other side, senior Ava Virga made three saves in each half for Watertown to post the win and eighth-grader Olivia Macutek chipped in with a goal and an assist.

"Some of the calls either weren't in our favor, but we just worked around it — and our goalie Ava, she's just doing amazing," Amalia Netto said.

Earlier in the first half, IHC had pulled within 5-3 on a man-up goal from Bombard with 5:07 left until halftime.

But after she won the faceoff, Amalia Netto scored a shorthanded goal just 16 seconds after Bombard's tally to stem the Cavaliers' momentum.

"Three of my starters and some of our top scorers are eighth graders," Purvis said. "Amalia, right now she's our go-to girl on faceoffs. She's speedy, she knows the game, her lacrosse IQ is like unreal and she works at it all the time. So if we tell her to do something, she usually does it and she does it well."

Paced by Amalia Netto, who plays midfield and also at attack as an eighth-grader, Watertown also won 13 of 19 faceoffs on the night, including eight of 10 in the first half.

"Amalia's been doing great on the draws," Macutek said. "We came into the season and we really didn't have a designated draw girl and she stepped right up. She's been doing great for us and we're all really proud of what she's been able to do."

Also for the Cavaliers, Hannah Netto totaled a goal and two assists.

Girardi, who starred as a goalie at Watertown before moving on to play lacrosse at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, is in her first season as IHC's coach.

"We're doing good, I think they're really stepping up and kind of coming into their own," Girardi said of her team. "Like mentally and physically wise, they're really coming together as a team."

The Cavaliers, who have two league games left before the postseason, have already improved on last year's one-win season, as they've beaten General Brown twice, Carthage once and bested Clinton in a nonleague game.

"From their first scrimmage to this game, it's been a big improvement," Girardi added. "But I'm glad that they held their own and played well. They really did step up."