The Needham controlled the opening draw, and thus the game as the No. 5 Mustangs (15-1) defeated No. 4 Westwood (11-2) 12-10 in girls’ lacrosse action on Thursday afternoon.
Needham took the opening draw straight down the field for the first goal and their first lead. While the game went back and forth for the majority of the first half, the Mustangs were able to dominate on the draws, which head coach Beth O’Brien said was the key to winning the game.
“When two great, talented, competitive teams play, the draws are huge,” O’Brien said. “Absolutely, it was probably one of our biggest things. We didn’t want to allow them to have the ball.”
Needham went up by two goals in the first half, before taking a yellow card that put them down a man for two minutes. Westwood was able to take control and tie the score with two man-advantage goals. The Wolverines kept the momentum rolling scoring two more to take a two-goal lead on the Mustangs.
Needham got the two goals back and goaltender Annee O’Connor made a big save at the end of the half to send the two squads into the break tied at 7-7. The sophomore had eight saves on the afternoon.
“Balls are going to go into the net, especially against a potent offense like Westwood,” O’Brien said. “Annee and I have been talking about making the best saves at the right time and she certainly made that big save at the end of the half. And she made some big saves in the second half that were momentum changing.”
During halftime, O’Brien stressed to her team that the second half was like a new game. With the scored knotted up, all they had to do was win the draws and control the pace and they could pull off the upset.
“I said, ‘Guys, you’ve played really really hard, now you’ve got to go back out and you have to take it up a notch,' ” O’Brien said.
The Mustangs took the lead in the second half and never relinquished it, although Westwood gave them a run.
“It was really tight,” said O’Brien. “We were up by three and then they chipped back and we had to hold on to the ball and fight for the last five minutes.”
The Wolverines scored with just over four minutes to play to cut Needham’s lead to two, 12-10. The Mustangs played a stalling game for the last four minutes to take the win.
Needham’s offense was led by Catherine Conley’s three goals and assists and Maddie Stenberg contributed two goals and two assists.
O’Brien noted that freshman Audrey Walsh had a standout game with two goals and an assist.
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