A senior sniper and a sophomore stonewall helped University make a little school history on Saturday.
Sophomore goalie Morgan Okubo made 17 key saves, turning George Washington away time after time, and senior Sarah Miller scored a game-high four goals as University was able to hang on to a lead it built early en route to a 9-5 win over the Patriots in the West Virginia Scholastic Lacrosse Association girls championship game at Andrew Jordon Field at the Trace Fork Complex.
The title was the first in school history for the Hawks (11-3).
“This feels amazing,” said Okubo, who won the game’s MVP award. “I’m so hyped, so happy.”
“They’re not just a team, they’re a family,” said University coach Jenna Alley. “Some of these girls have played four or five years together and it shows.”
University had to overcome some second-half adversity after it appeared the Hawks would cruise.
After carrying a 5-2 lead into the break, Miller scored a pair of goals to open the second half and push the University’s lead to 7-2.
But GW, which owned a pair of 10-8 victories over the Hawks in the regular season, sprung to life as Sarah Wilson, Sarah White and Cheyenne Banks each scored a goal within 2:06 of one another to pull the Patriots within two with 16:49 remaining.
University called a timeout to try and gather itself.
“We just knew that we couldn’t let them come back,” Okubo said. “We knew that they were a very good team that could come back easily; we just had to stop them.”
Okubo and the University defense did just that and Miller came up with the dagger, putting a ball in the net with 3:29 remaining.
Darian Turner added one more score for good measure a little more than two minutes later.
Miller said that despite the earlier losses to the Patriots and the spurt by GW (12-2) in the second half, her team never lost confidence.
“We came down and we knew what we needed to do and how we needed to play,” Miller said. “We didn’t have any doubts. Even when it got close we just needed to settle down.
“We just really, really wanted it today. They were our first game and we’ve improved so much since then.”
George Washington coach Greg Mallory agreed.
“[Okubo]’s phenomenal,” Mallory said. “She’s the best goalie in the state and she’s tough to shoot against. They play really good defense and it wasn’t our day today.”
Turner finished with three goals for the Hawks while Madi Remick scored two.
Wilson and Banks each had a pair of goals for the Patriots.
George Washington doesn’t graduate a single senior from its squad, and while the Hawks do lose a few players, Okubo will return, meaning the teams could see a lot more of each other next year.
Okubo made no bones about her goals moving forward.
“I’m expecting two more state championships,” she said.
University 14, Wheeling Central 6: University outscored Wheeling Central 10-1 over the second and third periods and picked up its second straight Division 1 championship. The Hawks became the first team to win two titles in a row.
Grant Thompson led all scorers with five goals for University (12-3). Jacob Snider chipped in with three goals for the Hawks with Cullen Gookin and Garrett Nagy scoring two apiece. Mack Fall and Zac Lewis each scored once for University.
Michael Tighe and Seth Carenbauer each scored a pair of goals for the Knights (14-3) while Ben Duplaga and Josh Pawloski each scored one.
Berkeley County 9, Huntington 7: Caleb Carter and Nate Stevens each connected on three goals in the second period as Berkeley County picked up a win in the boys Division 2 championship game.
Each finished with four goals and Cameron Steeley added one for Berkeley (14-3).
Jay Bowen had three goals to pace the Highlanders (6-6) while Joey Cline and Seth Porter each scored twice.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.