Monticello girls lacrosse has been so close this year. One or two goals away from that big, signature win. They’ve been close to a breakthrough against Albemarle and Western all year, but for three games, ended up on the short end.
They found the right time to get over the hump Tuesday with a 17-11 win that clinched the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Class 3, Region A tournament.
“I can’t even put into words how exciting it is — everything we worked for finally came to fruition tonight,” said Monticello coach Langley Sloan. “They put in that work all season and in the last game it finally came out.”
The Mustangs got there in large part because senior Paige McGlothlin poured in a career high 13 points with nine goals and four assists on the night, capping senior night with a long sought-after win over the Warriors. McGlothlin’s nine goals ties a career high, while 13 is her highest career total points.
“For a lot of the underclassmen this is their first time beating Western in and I’m just so thankful that I got to be here for that and got to help them do this,” McGlothlin said.
Studying those other losses to Western, particularly the last one, a 16-15 road loss, gave the Mustangs a lot of confidence that helped fuel an assertive, relentless approach Tuesday night.
“I’ve been trying to tell the girls that we are this really good team,” Sloan said. “We watched film yesterday of our last Western game and we were like ‘I know we’ve already improved on this’ like making contact early and talking and communicating and moving the ball on attack. They put it all together and this was the team that they are.”
That’s why the Mustangs didn’t panic after going down 4-1 out of the gate and managed to build a 9-7 lead by halftime. They just kept coming, kept plugging away. McGlothlin also kept pouring it in, at one point scoring three-straight goals in the middle of a 5-0 run that, when sandwiched by Caleigh Smith and Meghan Walin tallies turned that 4-1 Western lead into a 6-4 Monticello advantage. Both Smith and Walin each finished with a hat trick and an assist.
When back-to-back goals by Western’s Kira Repich in the second half cut the Monticello lead down to 9-8, McGlothlin responded with two-straight goals to stretch the lead back out to 11-8. For every Western counterpunch, Monticello had an answer. Even with Mady Starsia pouring in five goals for the Warriors and Anna Kreienbaum scoring twice in the second half, Monticello’s offense just kept putting the pressure on.
In the second half, the Mustangs’ defense held Western to just four goals, a huge advantage with the draw controls split right down the middle at 15-15. Lindsay Gunsallas had five saves on the night with the defense in front of her forcing six key turnovers, with two each coming from Mallory and Smith.
Both squads will start that region playoff journey next week and may run into each other again in that tournament. The Mustangs will be the No. 1 seed while Western appears likely to end up the No. 4 seed in the nine-team field.