Springfield With 10 minutes remaining in the first half of a district semifinal matchup with West Springfield, Lake Braddock junior Kristen Gaudian’s stick failed to pass a referee’s inspection and was removed from the game. Later, another Bruin was ruled to have an illegal stick, wiping out a go-ahead goal in overtime.
With a trip to the district championship game on the line, the Lake Braddock girls’ lacrosse team forced a turnover and Gaudian scored the go-ahead goal with 54 seconds remaining in the OT. Afterward, West Springfield requested a stick check on Gaudian.
This time, she passed.
Gaudian’s goal --- her sixth of the game --- in the second overtime period lifted No. 2 Lake Braddock to an 11-10 victory over No. 3 West Springfield on Tuesday night at Lee High School. The Bruins will face top-seed and three-time defending Patriot District champion Woodson on Friday in a rematch of last season’s district final, which the Cavaliers won 14-11.
“It feels great,” Gaudian said of the victory. “I’m so proud of everybody. We worked our butts off.”
Despite earlier stick problems, Gaudian said she wasn’t worried when West Springfield asked for a stick check late in overtime.
“I was confident that my stick was not illegal,” she said. “I had my coach check it, tie it very tight. That just meant that they were trying everything they could to win and I just knew that we were better than that and we had legal sticks.”
Gaudian scored four of her six goals in the second half or overtime.
Head coach Victor Chen said Gaudian has matured during her three varsity seasons.
“She just now understands the game completely,” Chen said. “She knows not to get flustered and get rattled. It’s really not how you start it’s how you finish and she really showed that. She’s grown 10-fold.”
Gaudian’s fifth goal of the night gave Lake Braddock a 10-7 lead with 15:11 remaining in the second half. West Springfield scored the final three goals of regulation, including Kara Kachejian’s game-tying goal with 28 seconds remaining, to force overtime.
Lake Braddock was a player down for the first 90 seconds of overtime due to a yellow card issued with 30 seconds remaining in regulation. Despite being a player down, the Bruins appeared to take the lead when Grace Youn scored 59 seconds into the first overtime period, but the goal was disallowed after a referee ruled Youn’s stick was illegal.
In the second three-minute overtime period, West Springfield controlled the draw and possessed the ball for a lengthy period of time before Lake Braddock forced a turnover and scored the game- winner.
Now the Bruins are headed back to the district championship game.
Last season, Lake Braddock went undefeated in the district during the regular season, only to lose to Woodson in the tournament final.
Chen said the team had a different approach in 2013.
“We had a plan not to worry about what happened in the regular season,” said Chen, whose Bruins finished 6-1 in the district, losing to Woodson. “Last year, we ran the table in the regular season and then
we lost when it mattered most. So this year was, it doesn’t matter what we do [in the regular season] and our plan came together. … It was a well-earned victory for us but, wow, it took a lot out.”
Youn scored two goals for Lake Braddock. Kyra Hayden, Alexis Torres and Jade Samec each scored one.
Senior goalkeeper Alyssa Harrison finished with 18 saves for the Bruins.
“I think it’s bittersweet because I feel for a lot of the seniors on the other team,” Harrison said. “I’ve been in that position before … and I know exactly how they feel, but I get one more crack at the district championship.”
Lindsey Mares led West Springfield with three goals. Kachejian and Sadie Schroeder each had two goals, and Marissa Lim, Devan Warden and Jocelyn Siveroni each had one.
“I told them to hold their heads high,” West Springfield head coach Brian Puhlick said. “They fought to the very end. They never gave up, they never quit and I couldn’t ask for a team with more heart.”