The No. 4 Johnston Lady Panthers ousted No. 5 Prout from the 2019 Girls Lacrosse D-II playoffs on Thursday afternoon, outlasting the Crusaders 13-10 during the quarterfinal round at Johnston Senior High School.
The Lady Panthers were led by two seniors in Grace Muller, who scored five goals and one assist and Kaylee Lameiro, who added four goals and an assist.
“We knew we had to come in strong and that we had to continue that through the whole game and I think we did,” Muller said. “We did have a little slip up in the middle of the game, but as a team, we came back and rose to the occasion and pulled it out at the end.”
The Crusaders got a big-game from Kat Moody, a senior, who scored five goals and sophomore Stella Mayo, who added a goal, and five assists.
In net, Prout sophomore Katia Konopelko and Johnston junior Jeweleana Lariviere matched each other with nine saves each.
Fifty-six seconds into the game, Muller scored and put the Lady Panthers up 1-0.
With 21:51 left in the half, Prout’s Mayo assisted to Moody and tied the game at 1.
Next, Prout got a goal from senior Claire Jalbert and got within 2-1.
Then, Gabby DiRaimo answered for the Lady Panthers with twenty-one minutes left, scoring during a free position and deadlocking the game at 2.
With 16:03 remaining, Bianca Robbins scooped up a loose ball and sprinted down the field before dishing to Lameiro, who fired past Konopelko for the score, putting the Lady Panthers on top 3-2.
Next, Prout answered when Ally Dewhurst scored after an assist from Hannah Gurnon and evened the game at 3 with 16:08 to play.
Thirty seconds later, Muller scored during a free position and put Johnston up 4-3.
But 19 seconds later, Prout evened the score at 4 when Mayo dished to Moody, who found the back of the cage.
Then, with 12:20 remaining, the Lady Panthers went up 5-4 when Lameiro scored after attacking from behind the cage.
But with 9:23 left, Mayo dished to Moody, who made a spinning shot during an indirect position and knotted the game at 5.
Though, over the next five minutes, Johnston constructed an 8-5 advantage after three free position goals from Robbins, Lameiro, and Muller.
The Crusaders got the deficit within 8-6, with forty-nine seconds left in the first half, when Mayo dished in front to Moody, who rifled a shot into the cage.
But with 27 seconds left, Lameiro passed to Muller for a tally in front, and that gave the Lady Panthers a 9-6 cushion as they headed for halftime.
The Crusaders inched within 9-7, nineteen seconds into the second half, when Mayo scored from in front, following a pass from Moody.
Then, with 22:40 remaining Muller scored for the Lady Panthers and put them up 10-7.
Four minutes later, Johnston added to its advantage when DiRaimo scored during a free position and put the Lady Panthers up 11-7.
With 19:06 left, Prout’s Mayo found Moody, who fed Gurnon, and she fired past Lariviere and got the Crusaders within 11-8.
Eleven minutes later, Prout inched within 11-9 when Mayo assisted to Moody, who whipped a shot into the cage.
But with 7:51 remaining, Johnston’s Lameiro, ripped a bullet past Konopelko and put the Lady Panthers up 12-9.
Prout answered three minutes after that when Mayo dished to Elena Edwards for a tally, which pulled the Crusaders within 12-10.
Lastly, with 37 seconds remaining, Johnston’s Robbins assisted to Lameiro for a goal in front, and that increased the Lady Panthers lead to 13-10.
Prior to the season, Johnston head coach Jay Areson was skeptical about his team’s chances, moving up to D-II, but now Areson feels his team has a legitimate title shot as it heads to the semifinal round to face a familiar foe in No. 1 seeded Westerly, who Johnston recently beat by a score of 9-6 on May 14.
“Yeah, beating Westerly the last time, I realized that the division’s wide open,” Areson said. “We’re definitely one of the top teams, though without a doubt. I’m sure Westerly doesn’t want to play us again. I think we’re peaking at exactly where we should be.”
The Lady Panthers won the D-III Championship back in 2017 and this year the girls want the D-II crown.
“These girls are gamers,” Areson said. “Like I said before, I’ve never seen a bunch of girls that, when that whistle blows, they just come out and they just know how to play. They know how to win.”