After Walkersville scored a goal in the first half, Frederick defender Kayla Gray Hillian put her arm around Cadets goalie Sam Lenfesty.
“She’s always like, ‘Don’t get your head down. I need you,’” Lenfesty said.
The Cadets never needed Lenfesty more than they did down the stretch on Tuesday.
With 14 minutes, 38 seconds left in the second half, the Cadets lost their top player, Bella Pellet, who left the game after getting her second yellow card.
For the final 6:48, the Cadets had to play a player down after getting their fourth yellow card.
And during all that time, the Cadets were clinging to a slim lead against a Walkersville team they hadn’t beaten since 2000, which was the inaugural season for varsity lacrosse in Frederick County.
But Lenfesty made a slew of big saves, allowing just one goal during the final 14:38, and Amanda Effland scored a crucial insurance goal as host Frederick pulled out a 10-9 win.
The Lions got plenty of scoring opportunities during the final 14:38, but Lenfesty kept stopping shots.
When asked about her performance in such a pressure situation, she matter-of-factly said, “It was just needed. Sometimes you’ve just got to step up to home plate.”
After Effland’s 16th and final save of the night with 1:52 left, Frederick retained possession to kill plenty of clock time. The drama wasn’t done, though.
Walkersville’s defense forced a turnover with a little over five seconds left and fired a long pass downfield, but time ran out before the Lions could get off a potential game-tying shot.
“We haven’t won against Walkersville — everytime that we played them, it’s been super close,” Effland said. “And finally winning against them just feels really nice.”
This one certainly qualified as “super close.” While the Cadets never trailed, they saw Walkersville battle back from a 4-0 deficit, force two ties and never trail by more than two goals during the entire second half.
Frederick (6-2) only led 9-8 when it lost Pellet, who had three goals and two assists, making its chances to finally top Walkersville look all-the-more difficult.
“It was hard to lose a big player,” Effland said. “But all of us as a team came out, and it wasn’t just about one player, it was about all of us coming through it and coming out with the win. We all played a big part.”
A timeout was called after the Cadets lost Pellet, another chance for Frederick coach Brandon Brewbaker to stress how his players had to overcome adversity.
“They get upset with me, I think, sometimes because I always try to turn something into a life lesson. It’s almost an eye-roller, how often,” Brewbaker said. “But we talked about adversity. ... We said, ‘Hey adveristy, let’s come out of it.’”
Lenfesty continually came up big over the final 14 minutes, and she thought her ability to make saves hinged on her mental approach.
“Just relax,” Lenfesty said. “Just literally chill out and don’t get so uptight about everything.”
Easier said than done in lacrosse, where even the best of goalies will typically give up numerous goals every game.
“I missed nine shots, but that’s OK,” Lenfesty said. “I kept going. And that’s what you have to do, you have to keep your head up.”
While the Cadets missed Pellet, they still had scoring capability with players like Effland. The junior, who finished with three goals and three assists, scored to give Frederick a 10-8 lead with 2:51 left.
That goal proved necessary when Walkersville’s Jenna Molnar scored to narrow Frederick’s lead to 10-9 with 2:36 left.
Brewbaker warned his players this game would be a slugfest, and it was down to the very end.
“I think it was still a really good showing for our girls, it’s just not the ending we wanted,” Walkersville coach Julia McLellan said. “Frederick did a great job, their goalie did a great job, and they really handled the ball there at the end.”
Jenna Molnar had four goals for the Lions (4-3). Maggie Molnar had two goals and one assist. Maddie Holley, Jordyn Miller and McKenzie Pope each had one goal, and McKenzie Pope also had two assists. Felicity Borge had nine saves.
Bella Shedio had two goals for Frederick. Maggie Nealley and Kyla Popielaski each had one goal, and Abby Lauterbach had one assist.