Every game, the Zionsville girls lacrosse team is taking steps forward.
That was the biggest takeaway Thursday night for head coach David Elefante, as his team topped Brownsburg 16-6 to move to 2-1 on the season.
“From where we started the first day of practice, to where we are now, the girls are really starting to come together,” Elefante said. “It is really starting to become a team game, and people are stepping up. The Carmel game (a 12-10 loss) was really big for us. We came out and took a lead, and even though we didn’t hang on, it gave the girls confidence that they really can compete with any one this year.”
One of the lessons the Eagles learned from the Carmel game was on display Thursday night.
Against the Greyhounds, Zionsville held a good lead early in the second half, but let Carmel gain momentum and going on a big scoring run to take control of the game.
Against Brownsburg, the Eagles led 8-2 at the half, but got goals 12 seconds apart from Annie Leonard and Grace Egler in the opening minutes in the second half.
Every time the Bulldogs scored in the second half, Zionsville had the answer.
“Lacrosse is a game of momentum, as people know, and it is meant to be a high-scoring game,” Elefante said. “For a team to get under 10 goals, your defense is doing pretty well. Being able to adjust, finding out who their shooters were and what plays they were running, that really helped us as the game went on.”
The Eagles took control of the game in the first half.
Annie Leonard and Lauren LaShell put the Eagles up 2-0 with 18:12 to go in the first half.
After Brownsburg made it 2-1, two goals by Masi McNally-Henriksen, and goals by Lilly Yott and Kaija Kunttu made it 6-1 with 11:30 left in the half.
Brownsburg got the next goal, but LaShell added two goals in the final minutes of the first half to get her hat trick and put her team up 8-2.
The lead could have even been more, but Brownsburg’s goalie was able to make several nice saves to keep her team close as long as she could.
“She really made some nice saves,” Elefante said. “We talk about failure or things not going our way, and we know that is going to happen. What we are trying to work on a little more is that if we drop a pass, go get the ball. If you miss a shot, chase after it, things like that. We really stuck with it in the first half.”
The Eagles got two more goals from Kunttu in the second half, giving her a hat trick. Masi McNally-Henriksen also completed her hat trick, giving the Eagles three girls with three goals.
Molly Rainey scored twice in the second half, and Taylor McNally-Henriksen added another.
In total, eight different players combined to score the Eagles 16 goals.
“What that speaks to is the youth programs we have,” Elefante said. “When you look at the successful programs in the state, it is mostly because of their youth programs. We have a great program in ZLax, where a lot of the girls played and a coached a lot of these seniors in eighth grade when I moved here. They come up through the system, they learn how to play the right way and they do a great job. Nobody is afraid to get the ball.”
The Eagles will head up to South Bend on Saturday to face South Bend St. Joseph’s.
Elefante said there will be some challenges coming off a long bus trip, but he thinks the girls will be ready.
“It is always tough to play away games that are more than two hours away,” Elefante said. “Driving up there, we have to come off the bus ready to compete. Sometimes you come out a little slow after a long trip, get behind and then you get in your own head. I think this year, we seem ready to come off the bus and compete, but we will see Saturday.”