Girls lacrosse: Reitzel's value shows in Neuqua Valley victory

By Gregg Voss
Daily Herald Correspondent

It might be hard to quantify Lauren Reitzel's value to the Neuqua Valley girls lacrosse team, but here's a stab at it.

Reitzel scored seven times against a pesky Downers Grove team Saturday. The Wildcats won 17-10.

Do the math. Take away Reitzel's 7 goals and maybe this game has a different outcome.

What was working for the junior midfielder on a sun-splashed afternoon?

"For me it was a lot of cutting and getting passes from people down low, and also free positions helped, too," said Reitzel, who had 5 goals in the first half.

Reitzel pretty much does it all for Neuqua Valley (8-3) -- scoring, defense and taking the draw. Here's a good example: Late in the first half, she won the draw, made a steal and passed it forward to fellow junior Courtney Costello, then got the ball back before she was fouled. She finished the sequence with a penalty-shot goal to give her team an 8-3 lead.

"Personally, I like being on draw and attacking most," Reitzel said. "It also feels good to make a defensive stop, too."

Added her coach, John Scanlon: "Lauren is such a huge asset. She's great on the draws, she's great on the circle, she's a great defender and she has speed and stamina. She's a cross country runner and just has a step on everyone and has a good first move."

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Reitzel scored a pair of goals in the first seven minutes of the game -- with senior Christine Corbin scoring the other two -- but she was just getting started. Reitzel added to her total with 11:28 left in the half by somehow scoring despite being double-teamed down low.

At 7:52 she put in another on a scrum in front of the Downers Grove net. The penalty shot at 1:14 was her fifth goal of the half.

But Downers Grove countered that effort with a pair of goals in the last minute, by Madeline Schallmoser and Maggie Casey. Danielle Gargiulo won the second-half draw and came down all by herself to score at 24:33. Suddenly, Downers Grove was down just 8-6.

But Neuqua Valley reeled off six straight goals, including a pair by Reitzel, and weren't seriously challenged the rest of the way, though Downers Grove made it interesting with four straight goals with under 11 minutes to go. The last two were courtesy of junior midfielder Regi Merkin, and the second was particularly noteworthy because she won the draw, drove down the right side and blasted her shot into the left side of the net at 8:11. She added another at 4:41 to make the score 14-10 Neuqua Valley.

It was the third game in four days for Downers Grove (4-7), against their toughest stretch of competition this season, Montini, Lyons Twp. and Neuqua Valley. Though they were losses, Merkin is convinced better days are ahead, and soon.

"I think we're a little over halfway through the season, and we've played a bunch of the toughest teams we're going to play," Merkin said. "So I think the next week and the week after will be a confidence booster for us, get some of those (wins) and then we'll be ready for playoffs."

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