St. Anne’s-Belfield’s Claire Schotta knows what Addi Foster is going through, she’s been there.
“I was an eighth grader too playing varsity and I know there’s a lot of nerves but she came out and you can’t even tell she’s an eighth grader,” Schotta said. “She’s confident, she’s a lefty and she’s someone we don’t even hesitate to pass the ball to.”
That confidence was critical Wednesday afternoon as Foster scored four goals including the Saints’ final two tallies to lift STAB past Albemarle 13-12 in a season opening clash that left both teams feeling pretty good about how they started their season.
The Patriots had to rally out of a 10-4 hole at halftime to make things close, eventually tying it up at 11-11 with 5:56 to play. Sophomore Emma Grady provided the equalizer for the Patriots.
But that prompted a quick response from the Saints with Foster providing a go-ahead goal on a fastbreak. The Saints didn’t relinquish that lead, with Foster drawing a foul and completing an 8-meter shot to push the lead to 13-11.
“I just tried to ignore the fact that it was a close game and tried to go to goal and be as aggressive as I would (normally) be,” Foster said.
Albemarle managed to cut the lead to one goal on an Ella Dofflemyer finish on an 8-meter chance, but STAB won the critical draw control that followed thanks to Kate Elam who finished with three draw controls on the day. Elam’s win allowed the Saints to melt the clock from there, with Claire Schotta and Cat Carden doing the bulk of the work over the final 30 seconds.
“This was our first test, a home game and an in-town rivalry so we were just really excited,” Schotta said. “There were times where we were up, times where we were down but we were able to pull it together and fix some things.”
Albemarle got a similar lift from hanging close with the Saints, especially considering the Patriots’ inexperience. While seniors like Ashley Cramer, Bridget Pinnata, Kelsey Myers and Anna Murray are back, 10 freshman and sophomores populate the roster. One of the five freshmen, Leigh Young, got her varsity career started with a four-goal effort against the Saints.
To rally from six down without much game experienced under their belt was a huge early step for the Patriots, who qualified for the state tournament a year ago.
“I’ll take that second half of lacrosse that we played every day,” said Albemarle coach Brittany McElheny. “We had almost 50 percent of our team play their first varsity game ever. I’ll take that any day, we just have a lot of learning to do. I’m really happy with it even though it’s not quite a win”
STAB’s Schotta finished with four goals and two assists as well as a team-high six draw controls.Tilly Matheson chipped in two goals and two draw controls and Katie Define and Carden each had one goal with Define also posting three draw controls. Elam added a pair of goals herself while Jamie Malasek was solid in the cage.
Kelsey Myers had three goals for the Patriots, Dofflemter also had a hat trick and Pinnata managed two goals. Keeper Morgan Coleman got her first action in the cage after coming over from playing goalie in field hockey while Sophia Epsie is also new to playing goalie.
The Patriots will travel to take on Patrick Henry-Roanoke next Wednesday while STAB travels to battle Bishop O’Connell Friday.