RALEIGH — Athens Drive kept the score close for a while, but eventually Wakefield was able to pull away from the Jaguars and take a home win, 16-7, in the second round of the state girls’ lacrosse playoffs.
The loss ends Athens’ season at 7-8, while the 13-2 Wolverines will travel to Wilmington Hoggard for the third round matchup Tuesday.
One thing both coaches pointed to after the game was the ability of the Wolverines to get their transition game in gear.
“They are very fast and really good in transition,” Athens coach Jennifer Brunsting said. “They killed us there. Our defense played well early, but we got behind and had to pressure out and they were able to run.”
The Jags led 4-3 15 minutes into the game. But sophomore Julie Anne Pretty and sisters senior Ashley Blawas and sophmore Megan Blawas sparked a Wolverines offense that scored five straight goals and outscored the visitors 13-3 over the rest of the game. Pretty scored a game-high six goals.
“She’s one of our top scorers and really shined on both ends of the field,” Wakefield coach Denna Grasso said of Pretty. “She has asthma and the heat hurt her, but we rested her some and she had great shot selection.”
Grasso also pointed to a defense that got stronger as the game went on.
“We played very good defense and defenders Darian Natividad and Samantha Begin played great team defense,” Grasso said. “And goalie Jessica Lynch had a great second half, when we needed her most. She adjusted to their shots very well.”
This was the third year in a row the two teams faced each other in the playoffs.
“This is a great way to start the playoffs, against a good team,” Grasso said. “It was good competition for whichever one of us was going to move forward.”
Brunsting said her team improved throughout the season, against a strong schedule.
“Offensively, we played well early today, but couldn’t keep it up,” Brunsting said. “Sarah Sedaghat in goal has been our anchor on defense and she had a good game today. We got better over the year, especially on defense. And we beat Green Hope this year for the first time ever, and that was a big deal.”