High school lacrosse: Virga anchors Watertown's girls sectional win en route to setting saves mark

·5 min read

May 23—WATERTOWN — Ava Virga made her final home game playing lacrosse at Watertown a memorable one for both her and her teammates Tuesday night.

Virga made eight saves and Alexandra Macutek, Alena Clough and Amalia Netto each scored three goals as the fourth-seeded Cyclones dispatched fifth-seeded Christian Brothers Academy, 11-8, in a Section 3 Class B girls lacrosse quarterfinal.

In the process, Virga became the program's all-time saves leader, but more importantly to her, Watertown is advancing to the semifinal round for the third straight year.

"It's been a crazy season and this win just tops it off so far," Virga, a senior, said. "But it's not over yet, so I'm just really excited to see what comes next."

Virga, who made four of her saves in the second half to help hold off the Brothers, now has 399 career saves at the school.

"It was really exciting, I broke a (saves) record last year that was just in a season," Virga said. "So to be able to do it for like my whole career, this is really exciting for me."

The Cyclones, who improve to 9-8, will move on to face top-seeded West Genesee in a sectional semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday at Jordan-Elbridge High School.

"It was a great team win," Alexandra Macutek said. "I'm really proud, our offense, we came out firing on all cylinders and then in the second half we kind of hit a little bit of a lull when our defense was able to pick it up and Ava had great saves for us. And that's the mark of a great team where if one side of the ball is not going our way, the other side can pick up the slack for us."

Watertown prevailed in its second meeting of the season with CBA after edging past the Brothers, 9-8, in double overtime on April 22.

This time, the Cyclones generated a five-goal run to close the first half to take the lead for good.

"I think we've been working really hard all season on a lot of different things and today it finally came together for us," Watertown coach Taylor Purvis said. "I couldn't be prouder of our team for that. Normally, we're the team who is kind of digging ourselves out of holes and having to come back, but it was really nice to have the lead and see them play the lacrosse that we've been knowing all season that we can play."

Netto scored back-to-back goals to spark the surge, including recording the go-ahead goal on a free-position shot for a 5-4 advantage.

Later, Macutek generated the final three goals of the half, each on unassisted efforts, as Watertown built a 9-4 advantage through the first half.

CBA would draw within 9-6 on a goal each from Lilah Kirch and Maeve MacKenzie with 18:58 left in regulation, but Clough followed with her third tally of the night, finishing off a feed from Payten Vautrin with 10:24 left to restore a four-goal lead.

Later, after the Brothers had drawn within 10-7 on a pair of goals, including a man-up goal from Kirch with 4:20 remaining, Sierra Virga added a goal for Watertown with 1:52 left for the final margin.

"I think our team chemistry is coming together really well," Virga said. "At the beginning of the season it was a little shaky because there's a ton of new girls, a ton of younger girls on our team, we have one junior and four seniors, so I think at first it was hard. But over the course of the season, we just came together so well, all the team breakfasts, all the team bonding that we've done."

Backed by Virga and a solid effort from its defense, Watertown also won 14 of 21 draws on the night, including securing five of seven faceoffs in the second half. Olivia Macutek led the way by winning six draws, Alex Macutek won five and Netto secured three draws.

"I think the defense played really well today," Ava Virga said. "I think we all collectively in the first half just brought our all and I know on the defensive end, the four girls that are starting are really killing it back there."

MacKenzie scored three goals and assisted on two others for CBA (12-6) and goalie Maddie Evans finished with six saves.

By setting a new standard for saves in the program, the older Virga surpassed Lauren Girardi, a former Watertown standout who held the previous mark at 392.

"She's been my mentor for a very long time," Virga said of Girardi. "I have an insane amount of love for her, our parents work together, she's a great girl, so I'm very excited about that."

"I've always called her our brick wall," Alexandra Macutek said of Ava Virga. "She's done an amazing job this season and congrats to her. It's her hard work and dedication to the game and we're all super proud of her."

The Cyclones will now advance to square off with West Genesee, which edged Watertown, 12-11, in a Class B semifinal last year.

"I think it's definitely a soft subject in all of our hearts that we lost that game last year, and I think we all want revenge really badly," Ava Virga said.