In the fourth quarterfinal of the Girls’ National High School/U19 Championship, Lakewood (Ohio) and Kent (Wash.) did battle for a berth to the semis. The first half was a brilliant, even contest in which the teams traded scores, but Lakewood pulled away in the third quarter of the match to win 34-26.
Lakewood went up first when outside center Jianna McCullough broke out of her team’s end and linked up with fullback Chelsea Clark, who pulled away with excellent speed. Clark was one of the most potent playmakers on Lakewood’s squad, and her boot handled the conversion as well, 7-0.
Kent caught up when flyhalf Cassidy Meyers – who was incredibly dynamic off the boot and inserting into her backline – gathered a kick ahead on the bounce and skirted into the try zone untouched for 20 meters. Ellen Ellen Morrison-Bala tied it up with the conversion, 7-7.
Lakewood returned to Kent’s end when Clark booted the ball downfield and chased it down as it trickled into the 22 meter. A couple of penalties allowed Lakewood to stay within striking distance, and the big, hard-running inside center, Shialah Anderson, crossed the line for the go-ahead try, 12-7.
Kent answered with a dive-over try minutes later (12-all) but Lakewood had the last say of the half as wing Danielle Pilutik took the corner for the try, 19-12.
In the second half, Lakewood outscored Kent three tries to two, but the Ohio team scored their five-pointers first and in succession. It was too much for Kent to overcome, although the late surge on energy speaks to Kent’s heart.
Chyla Anderson used her size to score her second and third tries on the day. With a little head of steam, she was just too big and strong to prevent her from breaking the gainline. Caitlin Kilbane converted Anderson’s third try (29-12).
Kent had some attacking opportunities fall flat, but showed some smooth hands and looping plays – particularly from Meyers, who has super quick around the corner – but little mistakes prevented the catch-up try.
Lakewood put in their last try of the day after wing Brittany Kapsalis tore down the sideline into Kent territory. She made a nice move back inside to prevent the ball going into touch. Support was there quickly, and the ball moved out to McCullough who went into the try zone nearly uncontested, 34-12.
At this point, Kent dug deep and answered with two consecutive tries as No. 8 Asinate Serevi reigned in an overhead pass from Meyers to score. Meyers notched the final try after making a sick move on Clark to freeze the fullback and score. Ellen Morrison-Bala converted both for the 34-26 finish.
Lakewood will play Divine Savior in the semifinals.