MATTHEWS – Charlotte Country Day girls lacrosse coach Kristy Boyles said she wasn’t all that surprised at anything that happened in the Bucs wild state championship game against their biggest rival on May 19 at tournament host Covenant Day School.
The Bucs had met rival Charlotte Latin twice during the regular season, and each game was more intense than the previous encounter.
Country Day had narrowly escaped the Hawks with a 14-13 win March 20, but when the teams met again on April 19 Latin turned the tables and upset the Bucs 15-13.
That loss was the first time that Country Day had fallen to a NCISAA opponent since they lost in the 2012 state championship game to Ravenscroft — a span of 49 regular season and playoff games.
Country Day had claimed every state championship since their defeat in 2012, but as they went for their sixth straight title Boyles said her team didn’t feel any more amped up because of who they were playing.
“We went 1-1 on the season with them, but them beating us didn’t really add to anything coming into the championship game,” said Boyles, who has been at the helm of every state championship win since the NCISAA sanctioned the sport in 2012. “I knew that it was going to be a tight game, although it wasn’t the case in the beginning.”
The Bucs came out in full attack mode on both sides of the field and jumped out to an impressive 8-0 halftime lead.
But Boyles knew that lead wasn’t sustainable with as good of a team as Latin has proven to be.
“My team was in a great mindset all day Saturday, so I wasn’t surprised we came out that way because they were so prepared,” she said. “Being up like that seems like it would be an easy place to be, but it’s a really tough place to be. I told them at halftime that this was going to be an entirely different game. It seems like Latin has been a second half team all season, and so I just knew it was going to be totally different.”
And it was.
After the Bucs scored three times to take and 11-2 lead, everything changed.
From there, Charlotte Latin went on an 8-0 run to cut the Bucs lead to just one goal in the waning moments of the game.
“I’d be lying to say it wasn’t nerve wracking,” Boyles said. “But in every shape and form my team was prepared to win that game in whatever way we had to. They knew how to win it and, as a coach, I had to trust that all of the tools I had given them plus the games we scheduled and the ones we won and the ones we lost had prepared them for that moment.”
The Hawks controlled the ball for much of the final few minutes, and had their chances to score but the Buccaneer defense, as it had done so many times this season, stood their ground and protected the one-goal lead until the final buzzer had sounded.
Boyles credited her back line of defenders that consists of seniors Ellen Hardison, Caroline Foster and Molly McLawhorn along with junior defender Francis Bowles and sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Powers for keeping the Bucs lead intact down the stretch.
“The three seniors on our line along with junior Francis Bowles have been so good and have played together for the past three years,” she said. “And my goalie showed so much composure and skill in that situation – as did the whole defense, really. Everything they had executed up to that point prepared them for that moment and they came through for us.”
The Bucs offense was led by Sadie Charles Calame, who scored four times. Country Day also got two goals apiece from Ellen Amber Moseley, Taylor Riley and Thea Reddin and a goal from Caroline Foster.
After the game, six Bucs were awarded all-state honors including Charlotte Pedlow, Reddin, Foster, Calame, McLawhorn and Moseley.
Boyles said as her team gathered for one final time, they were thrilled to be champions once again.
“It was complete elation and I think it was just from the pride of what they’ve accomplished,” she said. “This crew has never lost a state championship, but every one that we’ve won is different. It was a season where things weren’t exactly easy. We won some big games, but we lost some big games, too. This was a season about preparing them for this moment and they worked really hard to get here. Things weren’t given to them, but they earned it in the end.”