Wando outlasts BE for Lower State lacrosse title

  • Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jessie Bunting scored the game-winning goal in sudden death of the Lower State title game Thursday at Bishop England. FRANKIE MANSFIELD

Jessie Bunting netted the game-winning goal in sudden death to lift Wando past Bishop England, 15-4, in the Lower State title game Thursday at Jack Cantey Stadium on Daniel Island.

Less than a minute into the third overtime, with Bishop England down a player to penalty, Wando’s Casey Costello broke away at midfield and found Bunting for the open look in front of the net.

“When I saw Casey take off with the ball I thought we had a good chance to score,” Wando head coach Jessica Stralkowski said. “We needed a spark. We got a good look and shot and we did it when it mattered. I’m very proud of my team.”

Wando (13-1) advances to face defending state champion J.L. Mann (15-3) in the state championship game Saturday at White Knoll High School in Lexington.

“(Bishop England and Wando) are the two best teams in the state,” said Bishop England head coach Jeff Weiner, a former Wando coach. “It stings a lot. It would sting losing to anybody with this team but it hurts a little more when it’s Wando.”

Taylor Kennington scored off a free shot with 26 seconds left in the first overtime to give Bishop England a 13-12 lead. Bunting answered for Wando with just six seconds to play off her own free shot.

Kennington netted another free shot a minute into the second overtime. But Wando countered again, this time with Skylar Horner from eight meters out with 1:30 left. Horner led Wando with seven goals Thursday, six after halftime. The freshman hadn’t scored more than three goals in any game this season.

“(Horner) is our big unknown,” Stralkowski said. “We put her in the back there, feed it to her and she gets it. She almost had the win twice. We needed her huge contribution tonight.”

Wando tried put the game away with three more shots on goal before the end of the second overtime but Bishops all-state goalkeeper Taylor Rice shut down all three. Rice tallied 15 saves and three ground balls on the night.

“She’s the best goalie in the state,” Weiner said. “She’s been doing it all season and she did everything she could to give us a chance to win tonight.”

Bishop England (12-2) scored in the final 30 seconds of the first half to take a 4-3 lead into halftime. Wando ramped up the intensity out of the break with five goals in less than nine minutes. The Bishops countered with their own flurry of four straight goals through the next five minutes.

“We knew this game was going to be back and forth,” Stralkowski said. “One or two goals doesn’t mean anything because the momentum can change so quickly. That’s the mentality we kept all the way until the finish.”

Kennington led Bishop England with four goals, all in the second half. Dorothy Navarro and Jordan Mitchell both added three. Bunting and Karlee Stinson followed Horner’s big night with three goals each for Wando.

“We’ve had the hardest run through playoffs,” Stralkowski said. “I don’t think we could have asked for a better road to state. Chapin and BE are really great teams and to be the best you have to beat the best.”

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