NORTH LOGAN — It was a less-than-ideal start for the Mustangs, but to their credit they were undaunted.
Mountain Crest went on a 7-1 run in the second half to pull away for a 12-7 victory over Green Canyon in a Region 11 girls lacrosse game on Thursday evening. The Mustangs trailed 4-1 less than six minutes into the first half, but limited the Wolves to three goals during the final 44-plus minutes of regulation.
“Honestly, (head coach) Jaycie (Rindlisbacher) has been telling us to not panic because honestly we used to do that a lot,” MC sophomore Kamrie Wilkinson said. “But she’s been telling us to back up and just take a breath because it’s OK and it’s not like we’re going to die, so that’s been definitely helping us with the pressure.”
Wilkinson and company certainly elevated their level of play as the game progressed. The Mustangs (4-5, 2-2) were very efficient offensively after halftime as they put nine of their 12 shots on frame during the final 25 minutes of action and buried seven of those shots.
It was a balanced offensive attack for Mountain Crest, which had four athletes score two or more girls. Wilkinson led the charge with four goals as she found the back of the net twice in each half.
“We didn’t pass a lot (in the first half) because we were scared to pass, but we were passing a lot in the second half and trusting each other,” said Wilkinson, who also felt her team communicated better in the second half. “... And our success came from trusting our players and our teammates.”
As solid as the Mustangs were offensively, they were arguably even better on the defensive side of the field. The Wolves (2-3, 1-3) sliced their way through the Mountain Crest defense for a pair of goals during the first two minutes of the game, but the visitors were able to shore things up.
Mountain Crest did a great job of shadowing Green Canyon standout Janessa Grover after the senior gave the hosts a 1-0 lead. Grover only took three shots the rest of the game and scored once more — on a penalty shot midway through the opening half.
Alicia Salono Peneda was tasked with the responsibility of sticking to Grover like glue Thursday, and “she was amazing,” Rindlisbacher asserted.
“It was definitely a whole team effort,” Rindlisbacher said. “They really gelled together as a team this game and we’ve been working on a lot of stuff in practice, and it really came to (fruition) this game. Our defense was amazing. They were able to shut down No. 7 on the other team and that was our main focus coming into this game.”
The Mustangs also made sure Green Canyon star Lauren Harris didn’t take over the game. Harris did score three goals, but two of them were on penalty shots. The Wolves converted on 4 of 5 penalty shots in the contest and their prowess in that aspect of the game allowed them to lead for most of the first half.
Harris did excel at winning draws (faceoffs) for Green Canyon, which finished with a 13-7 edge in that department.
Gracie Blake accounted for Green Canyon’s other two goals — the first courtesy of a savvy move and nice shot with four seconds remaining in the opening half, pulling the Wolves even at 5-5.
Aisha Porter found the back of the next three times for the Mustangs, who got two goals apiece from Madi Henrie and Lilly Lopez. Taryn Durham chipped in with one goal and one assist, and Henrie made a really nice pass to set up Wilkinson’s first goal after halftime.
Green Canyon goalie Jaiden Cuff finished with six saves, while Mustang counterpart Sierra Maughn made four. Mountain Crest’s defense won a lot of groundballs Thursday, led by Maughn’s seven and Gracie Longson’s five.
“It was an exciting game to watch, for sure, and to be a part of and coach,” Rindlisbacher said. “It was fun for the girls, seeing as I’m friends with the Green Canyon coach, and it feels great to win this one. ... I’m very proud of the girls. They played really hard. They left everything out on the field and I couldn’t have asked for a better game from them.”
Ridgeline and Bear River both improved to 4-0 in region play with convincing wins. The Riverhawks (7-1, 4-0) dispatched of visiting Sky View, 15-5, while Bear River (8-1, 4-0) rolled to a 22-1 triumph at home over Logan.
The Riverhawks jumped out to an early lead over the Bobcats (2-3, 0-3) and never looked back. MJ Topham led the charge offensively with five goals, followed by Ellie Goins with four and Alynn Crawford with three. Goins chipped in with two assists, while teammate Belle Quiggle contributed with a pair of goals and assists. Nike Fredrickson also scored for Ridgeline.
Vivian LaMont had a big game for the Bobcats as she finished with five goals and one assist, while fellow freshman Kira Bowden also converted on a shot.
“I’m proud of the way our team played tonight,” RHS head coach Aaron Quiggle said. “I challenged them to come out strong and get ahead quick. They did just that and put some in the net quickly. The team executed well tonight.”
Up next for Ridgeline is a much-antipicated showdown against Bear River next Tuesday in Garland.
“Next week’s game against Bear River is going to be tough,” coach Quiggle coach. “It will need to be our best game for sure to come out with a win.”
Mia Barrera scored for Logan (0-3, 0-3) against Bear River, which has only allowed three goals in its last three region games.