CLINTON, NY – This seaon has been quite the eye-opener for the Clinton Warriors.
After jumping ship from the Center State Conference to the Tri-Valley League, it’s been a battle for the Lady Warriors all the way, starting with an exciting 8-6 victory over New Hartford. However, the Whitesboro Warriors, a Tri-Valley League mainstay since its inception, made sure the warm welcome to their league was a short one on Tuesday.
Senior midfielder Lexi Scaccia scored five goals and two assists for the visitors, using her speed and toughnes to deny a Clinton rally that lasted most of the second half. When all was said and done, the Warriors in blue were able to ride the bus back to Whitesboro with a well-deserved 15-12. victory.
“I think it was a hard-fought game,” Scaccia said of her team’s performance. “It was a phenomenal effort…we pulled together and did what we had to do.”
“Lacrosse is a game of runs,” Whitesboro head coach Ben Schoen said. “We got a good one, Clinton got a good one, and we were able to hold on in the end. I think they just ran out of gas.”
The home team certainly got off to a good start, taking advantage of early Whitesboro fouls to make a run deep into Whitesboro territory. However, sophomore goaltender Emily Marsh kept the hosts off the scoreboard early, standing tall in net and stopping several point-blank shots from almost every angle. Unfortunately for Clinton, they were unable to solve the mystery of the sophomore early on.
Whitesboro would draw the first tally just under four minutes into the game, when Scaccia used every inch of her five-foot frame to power past the taller Clinton defense. Scaccia took a quick pass from junior attacker Madison Davis and flicked it past the hosts’ goal to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead. They would add another just 16 seconds later, when senior attacker Alex Kopcza exploited a hole in the host’s defense and swept the ball home to double their lead.
Another Scaccia drive was defrayed by a penalty, and the hosts took full advantage. Less than a minute after Kopcza’s goal, junior midfielder Sarah Owens was able to solve Marsh, flipping a ball into the top of the net to cut the Whitesboro lead in half. The hosts would tie things up three minutes later, when two different penalties by the visitors allowed freshman Mia Lopata to perform the same acrobatics that Owens had, flipping the ball over Marsh’s head.
The Warriors from Whitesboro would not be denied, however, striking back a mere two minutes later. Despite leading the Clinton defense on a merry chase down the field, Scaccia was denied by Clinton goaltender Elizabeth Militello. Luckily for Scaccia, Kopcza was Johnny-on-the-spot, picking up the rebound Militello missed and burying it in the back of the goal to give the visitors back the lead at 3-2. Whitesboro would score four more before Clinton got back on the board, the first one coming on a mistake by the hosts. A loose ball at midfield allowed Scaccia to fire a pass all the way downfield to Kopcza to grab another goal and extend the visitors’ lead even further.
The senior’s run would end at three, though, as the third straight goal for the visitors would come off of the stick of Davis. Right off of the opening faceoff from Kopcza’s goal, the Warriors were on the attack, and Davis obliged their hard work by bouncing another ball right through the goaltender’s legs to extend the lead to three. The fourth came on the stick of – who else? – Kopcza, who was the catalyst for Whitesboro all day, whipping home her third goal of the day to put the Warriors ahead by three just past the halfway point of the first half, while her counterpart on attack, junior Samantha DeCondo added another one just 39 seconds afterward.
The home team would not be denied, however, ending the run in spectacular fashion just over a minute later. Owens ran through a mass of Whitesboro defenders, planting one just inside the left goalpost, ending the scoring in the first half with Clinton down 7-3.
For Clinton head coach Chris Evans, the four-goal deficit wasn’t about figuring out a strategy to break the solid visting defense; it was more about bringing his girls back mentally. “I just told them, let’s have some fun and look for the open girl,” Evans said. “Something clicked and things changed.”
It would take a couple of seconds before that change would come, however. Just 31 seconds into the second half, DeCondo found Scaccia once again to extend the lead to five very quickly. Just under a minute and a half later, a second goal would come, this time from senior midfielder Addison Green. The senior took advantage of a long possession from the visiting Warriors and sliced another ball past Militello to make the lead 9-3 in favor of the visitors.
Unfortunately for the visitors, that’s when whatever Evans told the Clinton team at halftime kicked in. The hosts took advantage of long runs by several Clinton players that quickly led to goals and excitement among the home fans. The first came on a huge run by Owens where she took the ball almost the full 100 yards before flipping it to sophomore Sarah Martini, who did not hesitate to slam the ball home to cut into the lead.
The next one was not far behind, though it did not come on the run. It came on a penalty shot, which seemed to be a problem for the visitors all day, and senior attacker Georgia Zoller made them pay with a rocket that flew past Marsh to drop the lead to four just nine minutes into the half. They would not be done, however, as just another minute later, another run, this time orchestrated by junior Skyler Jones and sophomore Wiley Gifford allowed Jones to ring a ball off of both goalposts and into the net, firing up the hosts into a Whitesboro time-out.
“We tried to tell them to compose themselves,” Schoen said. “Clinton was just feeling it at that point.”
Coming out of the timeout, Clinton just seemed to fire up even more, and it showed on their third long run in four possessions. This time, it was sophomore Alexis Highers running the show, taking a pass from junior Giovanna Constantino and winging the ball just over the shoulder of Marsh for Clinton’s fourth straight goal, cutting the lead to two at the halfway point.
Penalties would dog the heels of the visitors again, as two penalties, one on the initial penalty shot, allowed yet another Owens goal to go in and suddenly, the lead was at one with just under ten minutes.
The visitors stopped the run at five just 20 seconds later, as Scaccia, seemingly willing her team to victory at times, managed to get the ball deep in Clinton territory. Finding a seam in the Clinton defene, as she managed to do all day, Scaccia bounced another one past the goaltender to bring the Whitesboro lead back to two.
“Clinton came back early on, but we came together and did what we had to do,” Scaccia said of her team’s mentality as the hosts enacted their furious comeback.
The comeback didn’t stop there, however, as Lopata and sophomore Laura Hughes tied it up with back-to-back goals just 13 seconds apart. Despite all of that, the visitors were determined to keep the game from slipping away, scoring three straight goals of their own from three different players, including another one from Kopcza with just four minutes left.
The last three minutes of the game were almost all Whitesboro, as the visitors, led by Scaccia’s fourth and fifth goals of the game, were able to open up a lead with three of the last five goals, the last coming with just two seconds left in the game to put it away.
“Coach was telling us to keep a level head,” Scaccia said of her team’s mentality going into the final minutes of the game. “We’re not a grass team; we usually play on the turf field, but we kept our heads in the game. We capitalized on the opportunities we had. That’s what won us the game today. I’m really proud of them. It’s really humbling to know we’re supported by a great group of girls”
For Evans, while he admired his girls’ toughness, especially in the second half, he cited one thing that managed to doom the home team in the end.
“Whoever wins the ground ball wins the game, and Whitesboro did that today,” Evans said. “We tied it up…they just had a little bit more gas in them. I just wish we were on the other end of this game today.”
“It was a hard-fought TVL game today,” Schoen said of both teams’ performance in the game, the third for both as well. “It’s a fun close league. Last year when we played them, it went their way. Clinton’s got some good players [and] some good competition. It’ll be a good rematch next time.”
Whitesboro Warriors 15, Clinton Warriors 12
Whitesboro 7 8 15
Clinton 3 9 12
W- Lexi Scaccia (Madison Davis), 21:09
W- Alex Kopcza (Addison Green), 20:53
C- Sarah Owens (unassisted), 20:07
C- Mia Lopata (unassisted), 17:42
W- Kopcza (Scaccia), 15:48
W- Kopcza (Grace Stuhlman), 12:18
W- Davis (unassisted), 10:13
W- Scaccia (unassisted), 9:42
W- Samantha DeCondo (Ava Broccoli), 9:03
C- Owens (Georgia Zoller), 8:04
W- Scaccia (DeCondo), 24:29
W- Green (unassisted), 23:09
C- Sarah Martini (Owens), 18:33
C- Zoller (unassisted), 16:46
C- Skyler Jones (Wiley Gifford), 15:32
C- Alexis Highers (Giovanna Constantino), 14:50
C- Owens (unassisted), 9:56
W- Scaccia (unassisted), 9:34
C- Lopata (unassisted), 8:57
C- Laura Hughes (Owens), 8:44
W- Danielle Stay (unassisted), 7:16
W- Kopcza (Scaccia), 4:37
W- Green (Kopcza), 3:17
C- Owens (unassisted), 2:45
W- Scaccia (unassisted), 1:30
C- Zoller (unassisted), 1:18
W- Stay (DeCondo), :02
Halftime: Whitesboro 7, Clinton 3.
JV Score: Whitesboro 15, Clinton 7.