With the clock at 17:49 left in the second half, and the score 14-7 in Westlake’s favor, an unprecedented thunderstorm ended Westlake’s bid at upsetting reigning CIF Southern Section champions St. Margaret’s Episcopal School.
An “almost” win is not inherently noteworthy, but the given the historical dominance of Orange County girls lacrosse, the competition displayed is. In the past three years, Orange County teams have beat the Los Angeles region champions by at least 10 goal margins. Most recently, in 2018 St. Margaret’s completed an 18-1 season, capped by a 17-6 win against LA’s best Redondo Union.
“Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to talk with coaches about the girls lacrosse landscape in Southern California, much of them ending with sentiments of hopes that LA girls lacrosse would one day give Orange County’s best a highly contested game. It has been my mission to do just that since I got here,” said Westlake head coach Lyndsey Munoz.
Although the score at the time of cancellation showed Westlake with a strong lead, it wasn’t the case the entire game. Westlake started off with a 3-0 lead, but a yellow card left Westlake down a player for two minutes, giving St. Margaret’s time to even up the score 3-3.
Westlake won the next draw control, followed shortly by another goal for the Warriors and never looked back. Westlake would go on a 5-goal run before St. Margaret’s notched one to make it 8-4. With a balanced attack, control of possession on the circle, and ability of defense to force errors, Westlake never lost control with the remaining time played.
Led by a talented midfield line including Senior Claire Moats (3G, 5 DC), Junior Shelby Tilton (4G, 2A, 5 DC), and Kailee Follette (5G, 2A, 4 DC), the group combined for 12 goals, 3 assists, and 60% of draws won against the Harvard-bound senior Maddie Barkate and Hopkins commit Junior Campbell Case.
Although the midfielders led the stat sheet, Coach Munoz emphasized how much of the score was a result of the entire team’s efforts.
“To me, the game was not just a reflection of the improvement in skill of the girls, but more so a reflection on how impactful a positive team culture is,” Munoz said. “Only four girls out on that field last night play year-round lacrosse, yet they all performed so well because of the way they play together and the way every teammate supports each other.”
Defensively, the Warriors held their own with 6 caused turnovers and senior goalie Rachel Blanton came up with two saves. Juniors Mia Trilling and Delaney Waggoner rounded out the scoring with one goal each.
*Courtesy of Westlake Athletics