CRANSTON — A semifinal scare may have been the motivation the Portsmouth High School girls’ lacrosse team needed Sunday afternoon to get back to what it did all season long: …
CRANSTON — A semifinal scare may have been the motivation the Portsmouth High School girls’ lacrosse team needed Sunday afternoon to get back to what it did all season long: dominating.
After clinging to a 5-4 lead at halftime of the Division II state championship game against Burrillville, the Patriots shut down the Broncos the rest of the way to earn their first championship with a 14-4 win. The Patriots lost in the D-2 finals last year.
“The first half I was like, ‘You guys want to be here or what?’ Then they completely turned it around. Nobody works harder than my kids — ever,” head coach Amelia McHugh said after the game at Cranston Stadium.
After a regular season in which they went 13-0 against division opponents — most wins coming by double digits — the Patriots found themselves in an unfamiliar situation during their semifinal matchup against Cranston West on May 31: down six goals with under 20 minutes to play.
That’s when freshman Ellie Skeels of Little Compton took over, scoring the last six goals of the game for a 15-14 victory. Of those six goals, her last five came in under four minutes, including the game-winner with under 50 seconds left. Skeels ended up with seven goals and one assist.
The near loss shook something in her team, McHugh said.
“That was good; I like to be tested,” she said. “It’s important for there to be competition; that’s a really important thing in life. You need to know you’re not going to get a trophy every time you step on the field. My kids are good athletes and they buy into the system.”
In the semifinal game it was Skeels who went off to save the Patriots’ season. On Sunday, it was Kaitlin Roche’s time to shine.
Roche led her team with five goals — four of which came in the second half. “She absolutely dominated the draw. She’s an amazing lacrosse player who works so hard,” said McHugh.
After the game, Roche agreed with her coach that the semifinal game was a welcome wakeup call.
“During the semifinal game, I struggled personally a lot, on the draw and in general. She told me that was good for me, that I needed that. I went into today and just tried my best and it paid off,” Roche said.
Grace Boneu and Nora Cooney also had strong performances, scoring three goals apiece. Boneu, who also had four assists, had rolled her ankle the previous day.
“You wouldn’t know it by today,” McHugh said.
Goals were also scored by Talus Nightingale, Emilie Bobola of Little Compton and Margaux Boneu. Goalie Emerson O’Connor finished with 10 saves.
McHugh said she certainly wasn’t expecting her team to hold the Broncos scoreless in the second half.
“Absolutely not, but any given day it can happen,” she said. “That’s the way I was raised, and that’s how my kids act. My kids are aggressive, they have integrity, and they have grit. End of story — that’s how they won that game.”
She’s losing only three seniors next year, when the Patriots could possibly move up to Division I.
“Hopefully we’ll move up to D-1 and show those teams that we can play with them, and try to get back to the championship,” said Roche.