With the added pressure provided by the postseason, the Waunakee girls’ lacrosse team needed to do one thing above all others.
“They have to stay disciplined,” said Waunakee’s Assistant Coach Kory Lochner.
The Warriors’ discipline was tested early in their playoff opener against Kenosha on Tuesday.
Very little separated the two teams throughout the majority of the first half. When the clock ticked under eight minutes to go, the teams were tied at two.
Sparked by a goal from Anna Grasee, Waunakee’s offense finally burst to life late in the half; the Warriors scored three more goals – by Mateja Rogahn, Grace Bernards and Evan Maupin – over the next five minutes to go up 6-2.
Unfortunately for Waunakee, Kenosha locked down the Warriors from there. The Storm tacked two goals on the scoreboard before halftime arrived to make it a 6-4 game.
Maintaining possession was paramount in the second half. For the first 10 minutes after halftime, Waunakee had very little possession, and Kenosha took advantage finding the back of the net twice more to tie the game at six.
“Once the pressure started to hit from Kenosha, we ended up forcing a lot of things,” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Ashley Lochner. “We started to break down and not have composure.”
With the game tied at six, the Warriors finally seemed to regain their composure and held the ball for the majority of the remainder of the game. Though they dominated possession late, Waunakee was unable to punch in the game-winner until 3:39, when Anna Davis finally broke through to give the Warriors a 7-6 lead.
Kenosha scrambled in an attempt to re-tie the game, but the Warriors forced a pair of late turnovers to seal the win.
With one postseason win under their belt, Waunakee faced a tall task in the second round: the Wildcats from University School of Milwaukee.
USM had defeated the Warriors by 10 goals earlier in the season and had earned the No. 2 seed in the State Tournament by virtue of big wins all year long.
The Warriors came into Milwaukee hoping for a tighter contest, but the Wildcats ensured early that their re-match with the Warriors wouldn’t end with a Waunakee upset. USM constantly peppered the Waunakee goal, and managed to outscore the Warriors 12-0 in the first half.
With a big lead in hand, the second half ran by quickly; USM added two goals to their total, while the Warriors avoided a shutout with one goal of their own.
In goal, Sydney Lincoln made a total of eight saves, but Waunakee couldn’t match the volume of shots on goal from USM. The Wildcats tallied a total of 22 shots on goal compared to just three for the Warriors.
Waunakee’s season ends with a 15-6 record that included a second straight Badgerland Conference title. The Warriors will have their work cut out for them in 2020 if they’re to remain atop the conference. They’ll need to find replacements for their top three goal scorers and their goalie – all of whom earned all-conference recognition this season – but there appears to be plenty of talent ready to step into larger roles next year.