POTOMAC – Quai Skeet-Ridley powered throughout it all and thought she had done enough. The senior midfielder for the St. Vincent Pallotti High School girls lacrosse team had finished off her fourth goal of the game with less than six minutes remaining in their road game against St. Andrew’s Episcopal on April 12.
It completed a four-goal comeback for the Panthers but the effects of playing their third game in seven days were finally catching up to her and her teammates.
“It was definitely a gut check,” Skeet-Ridley said. “It is the end of the week; it is Friday, and everyone wants to go home, but we committed to playing lacrosse, so we had to go out on the field, do what we needed to do.”
The fatigue was enough for the Lions to take advantage of as they would score four consecutive goals in a five-minute span to defeat Pallotti, 12-10, for their first win of the season.
The result ends Pallotti’s week on a low note after they won back-to-back games on April 9 and 11. The Panthers (9-3) arrived in Potomac outscoring their opponents 151-85 as they prepare to compete for an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM) title this season. They took on a St. Andrew’s Episcopal (1-2) side who is always competitive despite their schedule, Pallotti’s Head Coach Mark Mozier said.
Both teams were firing a multitude of shots on goal in the early part of the match. Following a combination of passes, Hannah Belin would find senior Natalie Reneberg wide open in front of the crease for the Lions first goal. Pallotti responded with two consecutive unassisted goals by junior Ciara Shaw and Skeet-Ridley.
Despite a distinct height advantage, St. Andrew’s Episcopal would use their speed to tire out the Pallotti defense and score four of the game’s next five goals. The Lions would score two goals in free position shots and won seven of the first half’s nine faceoffs, giving themselves extra possessions and attacks on goal.
The Panthers fought back, scoring two goals to tie the game: one free position shot by senior attacker Jayda Robertson and sophomore Ally Miller completing a three-pass combination for an additional score. However, after St. Andrew’s Episcopal Head Coach Kelly McGuire called a timeout, the Lions bit back with two consecutive goals of their own to reclaim a two-score advantage before halftime.
“They are a good team, but we played together and had good teamwork; Everyone worked together, and that is what counted,” McGuire said. “Our goalie stepped up, and all of our captains did too.”
St. Andrews Episcopal attributed much of their success from role players that have stepped up off the bench to help the team out in critical areas. Their starting goalkeeper was injured so in her place, Kathryn Rice stopped Pallotti’s attack, completing nine saves. With their starting center injured as well, a combination of the team’s veterans, including Belin and Reneberg helped establish their faceoff advantage over the visitors.
“We rely on each other, and that helps take the pressure off of everyone,” Belin said about her tandem with Reneberg.
Slowly after halftime, Pallotti found its offensive rhythm while goalie Alexandra Eubanks made consecutive saves. The senior blocked five of the Lions’ six free position shots and completed the game with 14 saves. Meanwhile, Pallotti went on a four-goal scoring run with Skeet-Ridley scoring three of her five goals during the second half. She finished the week scoring 18 goals in three games with coaches expecting her to break IAAM records.
“She is our No. 1,” Mozier said. “She is approaching 250 goals for her career, should pass it sometime next week and it is hard to stop her.”
However, Berlin would steal the show with her six points, coming off of a five-goal performance with an additional assist. The senior Lion connected with back-to-back free position goals before finding Barnello sprinting toward goal to give St. Andrews Episcopal the a two-goal lead with less than two minutes remaining. Reneberg would convert an empty net, sealing Pallotti’s fate.
“It is so exciting (to win),” Berlin said. “We can finally see our work paying off.”
Going forward, Pallotti will use the time between games to relax and regain fitness. However, the road does not get easier, especially during the IAAM tournament, Mozier said. The players feel confident that they will use this experience to their advantage going forward, Eubanks said.
“We’re just hoping that they understand what they have to do to dig down to get that extra energy to succeed in a game like this,” Mozier said. “If we are fresh, I think we can beat anybody but it is three games in one week and we have to do what it takes to win our championship, and that has been our goal for the whole season.”