WESTWOOD, Mass. -– The ever-suspenseful coaching rematch between Leslie Frank and daughter Meredith showed both how far the Notre Dame of Hingham program has come, and why Leslie's two-time defending state champ Westwood remains the standard for girls' lacrosse in Massachusetts.
In a tight defensive battle between the top two ranked programs in the state, No. 1 Westwood (10-0) again edged No. 2 NDH (8-2), 7-4, to win the regular season rematch of the last years' south sectional semifinals at Flahive Field last night.
“We wanted the ball back so furiously,” said Westwood coach Leslie Frank. “You could just see the teamwork. When someone was going in for a shot the double was coming.”
Westwood outscored the Cougars 5-1 over a 23:42 span to pull away from an early 2-2 tie.
Junior Ela Hazar (foul goals) bounced in a free position to start the run at 3-2 with 15:36 left in the first half. A minute and a half later junior Kim Egizi drew three defenders away from the net and setup a backhanded 4-2 score by Hazar along the post to help guarantee the Cougars would never equalize.
“We just tried to play a little bit more aggressive,” said Meredith Frank. “Last time we played them we sort of turtle'd. We kept up our intensity defensively.”
After allowing a deep free position score by Notre Dame junior Kelsey Bowen, Westwood scored twice in the final minute of the first half to go ahead 6-3. Egizi finished a backdoor tally at 53.8 seconds. The junior then hit Hazar in motion along the net where she knocked the ball out of the air and into the inside of the top post for a 6-3 goal.
“Lots of shooting drills are done in two's; quick feet (and) quick shots,” said Leslie Frank. “It is to her credit that (Hazar) can stick that with a swarm of defenders on her. She has legit soft hands, beautiful stick control and beautiful finishing work.”
R'Askin A Lot In Net: Meghan Raskin was absolutely the difference for Westwood in the victory with 14 saves. The Cougars controlled possession and peppered the junior with shots all second half, including nine shots-on-goal, but were only able to score once.
Raskin opened the later half by shifting to catch ND (H) senior Julia Simmons along the post on a dangerous pass from freshman Charlotte Allard. Within four minutes of play Raskin just swung her net low enough to save her second free position in two minutes.
“Stepping up to the occasion is something that is really important,” said Raskin. “We always do eight-meter shots so we are prepared for that. You just have to keep a good head on you shoulders.”
Cracking a Defensive Stalemate: Westwood sophomore Colleen Burke worked her way through a gap in the defense and snuck horizontally past the front of the net to open up a high 7-3 scoring effort after 16 minutes of play in the second half. Fifty one seconds later Cougars' sophomore Lexi Lenaghan caught a high lob from Allard and buried it along the back post for the 7-4 final.
“(Raskin) was dominate on her low saves,” said Meredith Frank. “I wish we could have shot the ball a little higher. This is just one more step in where we want to take this program.”
Lenaghan ripped an open shot off the top crossbar with 4:55 left, while junior Isabella O'Connor bulldozed her way past two defenders to force a tough low save from Raskin.
Up and Coming Family Rivalry: Meredith played on two of her mother's six Division 1 state champion teams before playing four years at juggernaut Northwestern University. Last year was a breakthrough season for the program, but the Cougars were brought back down to Earth with a tough 18-8 south sectional semifinal loss in Meredith's first matchup against her mother.
The tight loss last night showed another step in the right direction, as the two squads remain the favorites for the South region and the state as a whole this season.
“I am following the lead of my girls and my school,” said Meredith Frank. “This is just one more step in where we want to take this program. My mom has done this for a long time and she has earned that respect and discipline from her players and that is what I am trying to instill.”