Girls lacrosse: Hoffman Estates, Naperville Central find the positives
In competition one team has to win, the other has to lose. But it's good if both can take something positive out of the experience.
Such was the case Saturday for the girls lacrosse game between Naperville Central and visiting Hoffman Estates, both of which achieved momentum heading into spring break.
The Hawks won 18-11 behind 8 goals from senior midfielder Kate Mongold and 5 from junior midfielder Chiara Hurd. Naperville Central, on the other hand, came away realizing it had played its best game of the season so far and got a co-team-leading 3 goals from freshman Elena Bendis, who was called up from JV for the contest.
Mangold scored 5 first-half goals, 3 of which came in the game's first four minutes. After each she gave a mighty fist pump to emphasize her point.
But the prettiest goal may have come at the 16:16 mark of the first half, when Mangold drove the center, cut to the right and fired a laser beam into the center of the net.
"She's the leader on our team," Hoffman Estates coach Eric Gdowski said. "We've been kind of starting slow to start the games, so that was the emphasis -- start fast and keep it going. She's a spark plug."
Added Mangold, "That's definitely always the game plan, coming out hitting hard, because in those last few seconds we get tired, and sometimes we have hiccups."
Not to be outdone, Hurd scored five times, including three at the end of the first half. The first of that trio was a curl off a defender on the right side.
She also took some pretty intense hits during the game, seven of them, to be exact (she counted).
"I think they always forget about Chi, and she's so underrated," Mangold said of her teammate. "She can score sometimes better than I can."
For Naperville Central, Bendis made her grand appearance on the varsity stage and made the most of it, scoring all 3 of her tallies in the first half. That included 2 in a row at 5:21 and 5:15, the latter of which was a blast from the right side into the upper left portion of the net, with the assist credited to senior Lena Baldacci.
"That's the definition of being given an opportunity and capitalizing on it," Naperville Central coach Kevin Kloss said of Bendis's performance. "We knew she was going to be good on JV, and she came to play and did a great job."
Sophomore Alexie Romanalli added 3 goals, including her first after Bendis's back-to-back that pulled the Redhawks to within 8-6, which suddenly made the game interesting.
"The team in general, we played great today," Kloss said. "The score got away from us a little bit, but I think the score doesn't reflect how well we played and how close the game was. We showed today we were right there. I was happy with the girls overall."
After Mangold scored early, the responsibility fell to freshman Kerani Patel and sophomore Maria Koultourides to handle Mangold, and they did well -- they allowed her nothing in the second half save two successful penalty shots.
"Everyone has been saying this was the best game, the teamwork and not individuals," Bendis said.
"I think as the season progresses, we'll slowly get better,"" Baldacci added.