Decatur Girls Edge Clippers, 9-8

BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s girls’ varsity lacrosse team survived a scare on Wednesday after relinquishing a big lead in the second half at home against James M. Bennett before rallying to beat the Clippers, 9-8, in the final minutes.

The Clippers scored first with a goal just two minutes into the contest to take an early 1-0 lead before the Seahawks went to work on offense. Decatur’s Leigh Ann Flounlacker tied the game at 1-1 on a penalty shot with just over 20 minutes left in the first half. Just under three minutes later, Flounlacker scored again, this time on a beautiful assist by Jamie Parker to stake the Seahawks to a 2-1 lead with 17:14 remaining in the first half.

Just 15 seconds later, Parker scored her own goal on a fast break after the Seahawks won the draw to extend the lead to 3-1 with 16:59 remaining. Decatur’s Kristen Miller scored 36 seconds later on a penalty shot to put the Seahawks ahead, 4-1. Decatur dominated the first half with much of the time spent in the Seahawks’ offensive end.

The Seahawks were very methodical and patient on offense, passing the ball around the perimeter in their set offensive schemes. As a result, nearly 10 minutes clicked off the clock before Flounlacker scored with 6:37 remaining in the first half off a nice assist on the crease by Emily Schnader. The goal put Decatur ahead, 5-1, which is how the first half ended.

In the second half, Flounlacker scored again on an assist on the crease from Miller to make it 6-1 in favor of the Seahawks. Cassidy Remmell scored just two minutes later to extend the Decatur lead to 7-1 and appeared the rout might be on. However, the Clippers did not back down and mounted a furious comeback.

Bennett scored its first goal since the second minute of the first half on a direct penalty shot to cut the Decatur lead to 7-2. The Clippers scored again with 16-5 remaining to cut the lead to 7-3. When the Clippers scored their third straight goal with 12:45 remaining to cut the lead to 7-4, the surprisingly large and vocal Bennett crowd went wild as the Seahawks called a timeout to regroup. At the 8:49 mark, Decatur’s Ashley Trice appeared to stop the Bennett run, but the apparent goal was waved off because of a crease violation.

Bennett ran straight down the field and scored again to cut the lead to 7-5 with a lot of time left. The Clippers scored again just 32 seconds later to cut the lead to 7-6, sending the big road crowd into a frenzy. Bennett scored again after winning the draw and rushing right down the center of the field to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:26 remaining.

Flounlacker, the Decatur captain and veteran offensive leader, then scored with 6:19 remaining to put the Seahawks back in front at 8-7. It was Decatur’s first goal since the 21:53 mark in the second half, a span over 15 minutes. Again, Bennett would not roll over. The Clippers got a great opportunity to tie the game again on a penalty deep in the Decatur end with 2:45 remaining, but Seahawk keeper Kaitlin Hardt made a huge save to preserve the lead.

However, after Decatur could not clear the ball with time running down, Bennett tied the game at 8-8 on a goal with under two minutes remaining. Again, Flounlacker took control for Decatur, driving deep into the Bennett defensive end before drawing a penalty. Flounlacker dodged a defender on the indirect penalty and fired a shot in the upper left corner to put Decatur ahead, 9-8, with 1:14 remaining.

There were a couple of tense moments late in the game as Bennett mounted one last offensive surge, but the Clippers turned it over late and Decatur was able to run out the clock to secure the dramatic 9-8 win over their Bayside South rivals.