Panthers rally but fall to Auks in girls lacrosse tournament

CLAYMONT — Down by six at halftime, the Polytech High girls’ lacrosse team wanted to chip away in the second half.

The Panthers won the second half, but came up just short in the game.

Polytech closed within three goals late but ran out of time, falling 12-9 to host Archmere Academy in the quarterfinals of the DIAA state tournament on Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the kids,” said Polytech coach Lynn Richardson. “We chipped away and fought back. Just that halftime deficit was probably a little too much to come back from against such a good team.”

Polytech, the fifth seed in the tournament, wrapped up the year with a 10-6 overall record.

Archmere, seeded fourth, advanced to play top seed Cape Henlopen on Tuesday. The site and time for that game has yet to be determined.

The Auks raced out to a 7-1 lead at halftime and were able to hold on despite Polytech’s eight goals in the second half.

Madi McKay first gave the Panthers some hope with a goal to draw within four with 18 minutes remaining. Archmere however responded with two goals in less than a minute.

Polytech went on a run of its own in the final 10 minutes and after Jazmine Winfield capped a stretch of three unanswered Polytech goals were down 12-9 in the final minute until time ran out.

“We never stop working,” said Polytech senior goalie Shannon Stephan. “We’re always trying to better ourselves as a team and we never quit.”

McKay paced the Panthers with four goals while Cecilia Carter added a hat-trick. Winfield and Claire Fuchs provided the other goals.

Stephan recorded nine saves on the day.

It was a defensive struggle for most of the first half. Both teams remained scoreless for the first 10 minutes of the contest until the Auks got on the board first.

Carter scored to equalize for the Panthers but that would be their only tally in the first half.

“Both teams played really well and were good defensively,” Stephan said. “It was really hard to score in the first half. Second half we definitely came back more.”

This was the second time the two teams had met this season.

Archmere defeated Polytech 21-10 on May 7 when the Auks scored 12 goals in the second half.

“We were preaching that the whole time that this game we were never going to quit, we were going to hang in there,” Richardson said. “Our first effort against Archmere wasn’t the best. I couldn’t be more proud of the way they fought today. We won the second half, we just ran out of time.”

Polytech has made the state tournament six of the eight years its been a varsity program.

The Panthers though will need to say goodbye to some of their stalwarts due to graduation.

Attackers Carter and McKay both ended their careers on Saturday. McKay leaves Polytech as the school’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Stephan meanwhile had played every single game in goal since the first game of her freshman year.

“We’re losing an awesome goalie and seven seniors,” Richardson said. “All of them are going to be hard to replace. They’ve set the tone and kept the tradition going.”

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