Springfield Yorktown junior Jennie Basile netted her second goal of the evening with 7:16 remaining in the first half when West Springfield girls’ lacrosse coach Brian Puhlick decided enough was enough. Basile’s goal gave Yorktown a 6-2 lead during both teams’ season opener on March 12 and Puhlick responded by calling a timeout.
"I told them that they were better than the effort that they showed in the first 10 minutes," Puhlick said of his message to the Spartans. "… I told them they needed to play with more emotion, with more passion and heart."
The Spartans appeared to get the message, responding with five consecutive goals and 10 of the next 13 en route to a 12-10 victory at WSHS. Spartan senior Savannah Pinnata’s goal with 11:49 remaining broke a 9-all tie and junior Lindsey Mares added a pair of goals to help start West Springfield’s 2012 season on a winning note.
"I think it was Puhlick," Mares said of the reason the Spartans bounced back from a slow start. "He took the timeout; he kind of set us in our place. We were kind of not serious about it before he took the timeout and I think we all just saw in each other’s faces that we want to win this and we’re not going to do it unless we get ourselves together."
Puhlick’s timeout talk sparked the Spartans and Mares took care of business on the field. The 6-foot-2 attack scored a team-high four goals, including the first of five consecutive Spartan goals to close the first half.
"When you’re that tall, you can obviously get the ball from anywhere, pretty much," Yorktown head coach Crystal Morgan said, "so you just need to play tight on her and just have your stick up the whole time and hope that you can beat her and just not let her get the ball. She’s a good player."
Mares utilized her height and reach on draw controls.
"I definitely see [opponents] getting frustrated, especially on the draw, when I get the ball from them up high," Mares said. "I just hear them under their breath cursing, like, ‘I can’t get the ball, she’s too tall.’ It’s a great advantage, actually."
Mares is a three-year starter and a leader on a team with just five seniors. She also plays basketball for West Springfield and was a starter on the Spartans’ 2012 state tournament team.
"On the draw, when she gets the ball above her head, she should win it every time, and that’s a nice advantage to have," Puhlick said. "She’s also a leader on the attack and she’s a big target and --- no pun intended --- the kids look up to her."
"On the draw, when she gets the ball above her head, she should win it every time, and that’s a nice advantage to have. She’s also a leader on the attack and she’s a big target and --- no pun intended --- the kids look up to her."
— West Springfield girls’ lacrosse coach Brian Puhlick about
6-foot-2 junior Lindsey Mares
Mares and Pinnata, who scored three goals against Yorktown, are two of West Springfield’s top offensive threats. Sophomore attack Morgan Akers scored a pair of goals and 6-foot-1 sophomore midfielder Christina Nagel, sophomore midfielder Jocelyn Siveroni and freshman midfielder Emily Frongello each scored one.
Senior Kyle Rushton is the leader of the defense and senior Katelyn Lovan is the team’s goalie.
Last season, West Springfield lost to Woodson 10-9 in overtime in the Patriot District final before losing to Langley in the opening round of regionals. The Spartans are in search of their first district title since 2007.
"Coming back from behind against a very athletic Yorktown team, I think it’s huge for our confidence," Puhlick said. "In a perfect world, I’d like to maintain a lead and never be behind in a game, but it’s nice that they’ve showed themselves when they’re down, they’re not out."
West Springfield will host Battlefield at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, March 16. The Spartans will open district play at home against Annandale on March 26.