The West Brunswick varsity girls’ lacrosse team reached the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A playoffs before their run came to an end on May 9 with a 15-3 loss at Northwood High School in Pittsboro.
“We played amazing tonight. We were without four starters and, you know, sometimes that’s just what happens. Everybody stepped up. (Backup goalkeeper) Sydney Beliveau played an amazing job in goal. Our defense played absolutely amazing. Sometimes the shots dropped and sometimes they don’t. we hit about four posts tonight. Hats off to them. They’re a good team, a solid team. And they deserve to advance,” West Brunswick head lacrosse coach Dan Rozen said.
“We had four people that had to come out because they were sick. We were so short handed today. And we just did an amazing job with it. I couldn’t be prouder of this team, where they’ve come to this point. This is the only team that’s gone to the third round of the playoffs in women’s lacrosse and we couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
Sophomore Beliveau, filling in for starting goalie senior Raya Milliken, faced 32 shots on goal in the playoff game.
Sophie Rozen scored the Trojans’ first goal after the Chargers jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
Northwood pushed their lead to 11-1 by halftime. After the Chargers scored the first goal of the second half, West senior Joelle Cerneka scored the team’s second goal to make it 12-2.
The Chargers added three more goals down the stretch in the second half but the Trojans put together a few more scoring attempts with senior Macie Coley finding the mark on her final shot as time was winding down to score West Brunswick’s last goal for the 15-3 final.
“Macie had the last one, which is great. You’re only as good as your last goal. And it was great,” Rozen said.
“It was great. You know, it was a tough game, fighting a little sickness. But we tried our best and we were fighting for that last goal. I said I wasn’t going to go out without a bang. So I had to get that score, one last buzzer beater,” Coley said.
“This year has been fun and different with the 3A reclassification thing in the playoffs. So we got to make it to the playoffs for the first time in, I think, six years, which is a fun experience as a senior. My sister made the playoffs her freshman year. So it’s fun to say I’ve done it as well. We had a great season. We play in a really tough conference with the Wilmington schools, but we never gave up and we kept fighting all year long.
“To get to the playoffs is great for the program. I think it brings us a lot of visibility. It shows that we are a valid sport. When you see that we’re in the playoffs, it shows that we really fight. People look at us compared to football and basketball and we’re just looked over. I think making the playoffs is really showing everyone else that we’re in here too. And I think making it to the playoffs is helping our younger girls get to see other schools other than just in our conference and get to play other schools and really get to learn,” Coley said.
“Macie’s goal was a tribute to our amazing, seven seniors,” Rozen said.
“Our program owes a huge debt of gratitude to this year’s senior class. These young ladies helped navigate us through the shutdown and restrictions that the Covid pandemic brought. They never quit. They always worked hard individually and for the team. They are leaders and winners.”
“Madalyne Bland is a four year defensive starter on this team. Maddy plays the low defensive position with tremendous enthusiasm. She plays a determined, technical game and is seldom fooled by the offense’s misdirection. She has advanced her stick skills to the point where she is comfortable bringing the ball up the field. Her attitude is infectious and she is a beacon to her younger teammates,” Rozen said.
“Joelle Cerneka came into this season, her fourth as a starter, determined to leave her mark. She battled through adversity early in the year and never waivered in her commitment to the team and the game. She is the Energizer Bunny on the team. Loved by her teammates, coaches and fans for her hustle and effort she is a next level midfielder who plays end to end at high speed.
“Macie Coley came to the program in the shadow of her sister, Teagan, as a wide-eyed freshman willing to work and make her own name. She made the commitment to grow her game by leaving the local travel ball team to travel to Raleigh to play off-season at the highest level. Her efforts have shown in her game. She has led the team in goals the last two years and led the team in assists as well this year. She is a prototypical attacker,” Rozen said.
“Olivia “Scotty” Mehalick. Scotty’s game has developed in leaps and bounds each year. She has been a consistent scorer and distributor of assists. This year she grew her defensive abilities and became one of our fiercest defenders on the ride. Her elevation in stick skills also allowed the coaches to move her to the midfield position where she blossomed into one of the team’s more complete end-to-end players.
“Raya Milliken has been the backstop and backbone of this team for the last two years. She is technically one of the best goalies to play at West and her performance has earned her the respect of opponents and officials. Her 24 saves in a single game against Laney is legendary. She has shut down many of the top scorers in the conference, and always with a smile on her face,” Rozen said.
Marisa Nance, every team needs a player with an edge and Marisa is that player. A relentless defender who plays the “up” position. She is responsible to cover a great deal of ground. Her athleticism and tenacity are hallmarks of her game. She has grown her stick skills and is trusted to advance the ball upfield after a turnover. A ferocious defender who gives nor takes any quarter.”
“We’re a big group of seniors,” Coley said.
“We’re all captains, all the seniors together and we’ve created like a really great leadership team. And we’re just trying to prepare our younger girls for us leaving. We want them to be prepared and ready. But we’ve always tried to lead our team and grow together. And we’re all really best friends. And it’s been a really fun experience.”
Coley said despite so many seniors leaving, the team will be in good hands with juniors Sophie Rozen and Camdyn Beck, who were also captains of this season’s team, returning.
“They have both stepped up this year and really helped be leaders with us seniors. I think they’re really going to do a great job next year,” Coley said.
Brian Slattery is the sports editor for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 910-239-7433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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