COLLEGE PARK – The Good Counsel High School girls’ lacrosse team competed in its 16th consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) Championship game on May 13 at Ludwig Field at the University of Maryland, College Park.
When the Falcons took the field, opposing players clad in their familiar red-and-white uniforms stared back at the team from Olney. After all, for the past five years, Good Counsel has faced Bishop Ireton High School in the WCAC title game. The Falcons were victorious in 2015; the Cardinals won the next three championship games.
The latest matchup between the two teams yielded a similar outcome, as Bishop Ireton scored early and often. Even though the Falcons gave it their all and kept the game close, the Cardinal defense was too tight to overcome, and in the end, Bishop Ireton earned its fourth straight WCAC Championship by a score of 11-7.
Cardinals junior Reilly Casey proved to be invaluable to Bishop Ireton’s victory. The North Carolina commit finished with eight points from four assists and four goals, including a shot that still found its mark even though Casey had her back to the net.
Casey and junior Aubrey Williams helped Bishop Ireton build its lead in the first half as the Cardinals jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Casey scored first; then Williams added the exclamation point shortly afterward by winning the draw and then hightailing it directly to the net for another goal in a matter of seconds.
Meanwhile, Bishop Ireton’s zone defense proved to be a pain point for Good Counsel, as the Falcons had difficulty penetrating through the defenders. Good Counsel didn’t get on the board until sophomore Gracie Smith scored almost 10 minutes into the game. Still, the Cardinals answered back immediately with another goal straight from faceoff; this time, courtesy of Briana Lantuh.
The Falcons seemed to settle in as the game progressed. Sophomore Emily King took advantage of a Cardinals turnover and turned the opposing team’s mistake into points for Good Counsel. Smith grabbed a fast pass and tossed in the second of her three goals. Senior Kayla Rieu burst through a sea of white Cardinals jerseys for another score to bring Good Counsel within two goals before the half. King generated another Bishop Ireton turnover, but the Cardinals stole the ball back a few seconds later.
“We really gave our best effort,” said Smith. “We really gave our whole heart, and we all gave 100 percent. I could see that this was one of the best games we’ve ever played, and I’m proud of how we kept ourselves in this game.”
Bishop Ireton struck again with its tried-and-true formula less than a minute into the second half. Casey passed to senior Sydney Foster, and Foster followed through on her successful shot by going to the ground afterward.
The Falcons closed the scoring gap to within three again when sophomore Kaitlyn Gallagher snuck past the Bishop Ireton defense. Even though the Falcons didn’t give up and tried to score until the final seconds of the game, the Cardinals defense held Good Counsel to just two second-half goals.
“I think the biggest thing for us is just taking care of the ball and coming away with positive possessions,” said Good Counsel Head Coach Mike Haight. “When you’re playing a nationally ranked team and you have opportunities to put the ball in the net, you’re not going to win many of those games.”
After the game, players on Bishop Ireton’s sideline stormed onto the field to celebrate with their team and pose with their newly won WCAC trophy.
However, Bishop Ireton’s season isn’t over yet. According to Casey, the Cardinals have a goal every year of going deep into the postseason and playing six games in May. Just 24 hours after beating Good Counsel, the Cardinals have a date set for the Virginia state championship with Paul VI Catholic High School on May 14.
“Our main goal is six games in May, and this is what we practice for all offseason,” said Casey. “We have workouts at 6 a.m. in the morning during the offseason, and this is our goal, to win (the WCAC championship) and states. We just want to get back out there and put more numbers on the banner.”