Albemarle girls lacrosse was working with a lead essentially from the opening whistle Tuesday evening against Stafford.
But even with that advantage spurring them on and even as the lead continued escalating to an easy 19-7 victory in the Class 5, Region D quarterfinals, goalie Caroline Sheppard kept making sure the Albemarle defense was locked in.
“It’s a security net but something I like to do is to make sure we’re ready,” Sheppard said after making four saves. “We want to make sure that we use games like this to focus on what we’re going to do in games after this one. We’re just really going to be focused.”
That’s because bigger challenges lurk almost immediately. The Patriots travel to Patrick Henry-Roanoke for the Region 5D semifinals with a state tournament berth on the line. The two squads faced off earlier this year and in a weather-marred clash, Albemarle fell.
“It’s a mental game always and it’s about who’s the most ready mentally and when we go down there we’re going to be ready,” Sheppard said.
The Patriots were ready mentally against the Indians Tuesday and cruised to the win behind five goals from Morgan Rose and four goals each from Jenn Wendelken and Kelsey Myers. The Patriots have an array of scorers to lean on, but when all three of those standouts are pouring it in, they become particularly tough to contain. Wendelken was dominant on the draw too with 10 draw controls on the night and she also managed to force three turnovers.
Erin Keller chipped in a pair of goals while Abby Meistrell, Miranda Hirts, Anna Murray and Loring Spencer each scored once.
The Patriots will face Patrick Henry at 5 p.m. Thursday on the road in the region semifinals.