TROY — Goals weren’t easy to come by against the Marian varsity girls lacrosse team Wednesday night in the Division 1 regional semifinals.
The Mustangs’ defense didn’t give Troy many open looks at the net or room to run upfield. Marian would go on to poke the ball loose every which way on its way to a 10-5 win.
“Our defense played fantastic today, that was the big key in the game,” Marian coach Jamie Francek said. “(Troy wasn't) able to get momentum from their goals.”
The Troy Colts (14-8) knew coming into the game that protecting the ball was going to be critical against one of the top teams in the state, but early on they struggled getting the ball past the 30-yard line.
It was turnovers that helped the Mustangs grab an early lead. Troy coach Allison Atchoo called a timeout to settle down her team after Antonia Violante put her team up 4-1 with 18:04 left in the first half.
“I think our big weakness coming out here was going to be turnovers and catching and throwing, that was our Achilles’ heel,” Atchoo said. “Marian is a great team. You can’t drop the ball, they are going to get it and convert.”
Out of the timeout, the Colts scored back-to-back goals to make it 4-3, but that’s as close as they would get.
The Mustangs (19-5-1) went on a 3-0 run to go into halftime with a comfortable 7-3 lead.
“We’ve had letdowns earlier in the season,” Francek said. “Our plan was to just not let down this time, make sure we came back after they scored those three goals.”
In the second half, neither team scored for more than 10 minutes. Haley Burns scored on an assist from Theresa Burcz to make it 7-4 with 13:44 left in the game. Troy wouldn’t score again until the final minute of game.
“We wanted to hold the ball and possess the ball, not let them have a chance to come back,” Francek said.
Violante led Marian with three goals and an assist. KK Henneghan had two goals and two assists. Burns and Christina Shabet had two goals each for the Colts.
The Mustangs advance to the regional finals for a rematch against Birmingham United at 7 p.m. Friday at Troy.
“That’s our big rival,” Francek said. “We’ve been waiting for all year, no motivation needed for that one.”
Calling it just a rivalry is an understatement. The two teams have met in the playoffs every year since 2007, including a matchup in the 2009 Division 1 finals.
In the team’s last five playoff meetings, four of the games were decided by foul goals or less. Marian has dropped four of the five games, but won in the regionals finals last year 15-11 over Birmingham.
“There’s a lot of hype for it,” Violante said. “It’s going to be a close game, they also have a lot of speed and great shooters.”