Cavs knock off Ravens for shot at girls’ lacrosse title
Durham Academy upended reigning state champion Ravenscroft 13-11 on Thursday to advance to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association girls’ lacrosse championship game for the first time since 2011.
DA (12-5), which won the state title in 2009, finished second in 2011 and tied for third in 2012 in Coach Debbie Rebosa’s first two seasons.
“We are a very young, very talented team that is very into lacrosse and is really looking forward to playing for a state championship,” Rebosa said.
The second-seeded Cavaliers will meet undefeated NCISAA No. 1 seed Charlotte Country Day (18-0) on its home field on Saturday. The game time had not been announced as of Thursday night.
But first DA had to get past No. 3-seeded Ravenscroft (14-5). The Cavaliers knew it would be a battle since the teams split their Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference games by 11-10 scores, with each team winning at home.
DA had the homefield edge Thursday after winning a tiebreaker Ravenscroft, the TISAC co-champion, but needed a fast start to clip the Ravens’ wings and establish momentum.
The Cavs did just that. Eighth grader Hannah Pope opened the scoring with an assist from senior Elizabeth Eason (five goals, two assists) 1:54 into the game, and senior Robin Blazing (three goals) added another 36 seconds later off a feed by eighth grader Madison Dunk to make it 2-0.
Ravenscroft got on the board 18 seconds later, but then DA had grabbed a lead it would never relinquish. The Cavs extended the lead to 8-3 with 4:03 left in the first half on three Eason goals off Dunk assists.
“That’s an eighth grader to a senior,” Rebosa said. “That might have been Elizabeth’s best game of the season, and it came when we really needed it.”
But Ravenscroft wasn’t done, scoring unassisted goals with 3:38, 2:25 and 58.2 to play to make it 8-6. The Ravens had control and were on the attack when Blazing picked up a ground ball deep for a Ravenscroft turnover with 3.9 seconds left.
Seemingly on their heels, the Cavs needed a momentum boost to start the second half.
“Our third-quarter offense is something we’ve really stressed and worked on,” Rebosa said. “It’s cost us in our loss to Ravenscroft and in our loss at Charlotte Country Day (15-14 on May 3). Both times we were ahead at the half but lost it in the third quarter.”
Blazing wasn’t about to let that happen. She scored 1:13 into the 25-minute half off a feed from Naomi Lerner, and Eason scored with 21:57 to play to make it 10-6.
Ravenscroft, which never went away, continued to take advantage of the Cavs’ admitted defensive shortcomings on the fast break, repeatedly turning DA fouls into goals and dominating the faceoff circle to maintain control of the ball.
With the lead down to 11-9 and 18:11 left in the game, Dunk (four assists) scored her only goal with 14:42 left, and Eason scored DA’s final goal with 8:24 left off a Jordan Barry pass to make it 13-9.
Eason’s goal came with DA shorthanded, as Leander Perun received a yellow card and had to sit out two minutes at the 9:56 mark. Ground ball steals by Blazing and Lerner stopped a pair of Ravens’ threats in that span.
The Cavs milked the lead, allowing a pair of goals, the last with 6:05 left, but maintaining the lead. Ravenscroft had possession in the final four minutes and threatened, but its last opportunity ended when Barry controlled a ground ball turnover with 2:35 to play.
DA played keep-away to the buzzer.
“That was planned,” Rebosa said, adding that the team had worked hard on conditioning to be able to run out the clock in a close game.
DA 13, Ravenscroft 11
Goals—Ravenscroft, Hannah Makepeace 3, Olivia Aschman 2, Averi Gaines 2, Caitlin Dorsey 2, Rachel Hianik, Anna Collawn; Durham Academy, Elizabeth Eason 5, Robin Blazing 3, Hannah Pope 2, Jordan Barry 2, Madison Dunk. Assists—Ravenscroft, Nicole Knape, Hianik, Aschman; Durham Academy, Dunk 4, Naomi Lerner 3, Eason 2, Barry, Leander Perun. Shots on goal—Ravenscroft 17, Durham Academy 20. Saves—Ravenscroft 5 (Danielle Given 5), Durham Academy 9 (Faith Couch 9).
Records—Ravenscroft 14-5, Durham Academy 12-5.