NAPLES—Lake Region tamed the Panthers with relative ease on Friday, June 8, tranquilizing them 19-6: Lakers Lindsey Keenan and Melissa Bonenfant turned in a hat trick apiece in the winning effort, and the team advanced to Tuesday the 12th’s Regional Final.

LRHS hosted Freeport for that contest, and though the action seesawed through much of the first half, the Lakers began to pull away as the break approached, and won in the end 19-8. Rachel Shanks led the scoring with five goals.

Lake Region will next face off on Friday night, June 15, when they meet St. Dominic in the State Championship.

No. 1 Lake Region vs. No. 8 NYA
The Lakers seized the lead early against the Panthers, and zipped ever forward from there. As mentioned, Lindsey Keenan and Bonenfant tallied three goals each for LRHS; Keenan logged an assist as well. Lauren Jakobs, Paige Davis, Shanks, Bella Russo and Mackenzie Siebert hashed two apiece, with Jakobs and Shanks also kicking in one assist each. Finally, Shauna Hancock had one goal and one assist, and Aisley Sturk and Isabelle Davis-White had one goal per girl.

Lake Region blew the Panthers out – but it’s not entirely fair to say the Panthers played poorly; the Lakers just played really well. Bella MacMahon contributed a hat trick for NYA, while Natalie Farrell added two and Tessa Quattrucci added one.

“NYA’s a pretty good team,” senior defender Olivia Deschenes said, asked if the Panthers presented any tough looks. “On the defensive end, they had really good cuts from the bottom; that was kind of hard for us to defend. Once we adjusted and noticed those cuts were coming, we were able to hop right on it.”

The Lakers first faced off with the Panthers this spring early in the regular season. Lake Region dominated that bout too, winning 17-5, but that result actually worked against them in a way, this second time around.

“In the beginning, today, we came out a little too lazy, and they scored the first goal on us,” Jakobs, another senior, said. “Then we kind of realized, ‘Well, they can actually score on us; we need to come out strong.’”

“They’re a good team, they’ve got a great coach; they’re rebuilding their program,” Lake Region head coach Dave Keenan said of NYA. “If you look into not only the group they’ve got now, but also their middle school group, it’s looking really good.”

“We have a lot of seniors this year,” Coach Keenan said. “That helps. The key is, they controlled the ball, and that’s always the difference between winning and losing. They had the ground balls, they won most of the draws, they got the rebounds on shots that were missed.”

Deschenes, Jakobs and Lindsey Keenan (also a senior) captain the Lakers. The girls echoed their coach, when asked what allowed their team to so thoroughly control the day:

“We were sharing the ball really well, and finding each other down the field; our transition was really good today, and just finishing at the offensive end,” Jakobs said. “Our defense was good, intercepting the ball.’

“Like Lauren said, we passed the ball around a lot – gave everyone a chance, trusted our teammates,” Deschenes said. “That worked well for us, because it wasn’t one-sided. We also did really well on ground balls and draws today, and we usually struggle with that. Whenever we have more of those than the other team, we come out a little bit on top. Coach Keenan would be happy to know we had the majority of them.”

The same keys to Lake Region’s victory over the Panthers also helped secure their 10 other victories this season. “We really learned how to get the ground balls,” Lindsey Keenan said, asked how she and her girls came to lead the standings. “Which is, as Olivia said, definitely our struggle. The transition is a struggle for us too, so we really learned how to communicate with each other; we trust each other, we know where we are at all times.”

Lindsey Keenan applauded her squad: “This whole team plays awesome. We work together really well. We all need each other to be complete, and I think we all stood out today.”

The Lake Region roster sports 10 seniors, here in 2018; that’s a big group with a long history. “We’ve all been playing together since we were in fourth or fifth grade,” Lindsay Keenan said. “We’re all best friends; we just love each other. Next week being the State Championship, which we hope to make it to, the end of that game will – when we come out on top! – will definitely be exciting, but it will be really sad at the same time. Just because we’re all going our different ways after so many years of playing together.”

No. 1 Lake Region vs. No. 4 Freeport
Freeport won the opening draw in Tuesday evening’s Regional Final, and wasted little time – 48 seconds, to be precise – in scoring the game’s first goal. Taylor Dostie did the honors, with Lakers keeper Maddie Nelson initially blocking the shot in the grass, only to watch it trickle past her feet and in. Two minutes later, Lake Region responded: Lindsey Keenan, carrying, couldn’t get the shot she wanted, ducked behind the Freeport net and dished to Hancock in front. Hancock redirected low past Falcons keeper Cam Pasquale. 1-1.

“[We knew Freeport was] a very strong team that seemed to be getting better each week,” Coach Keenan said, asked about his girls’ opposition in the Regional Final.

The teams continued their thrust-and-parry through much of the first half: Bonenfant scored for Lake Region on a Shanks assist; Taylor Rinaldi scored for Freeport with help from Chloe Davidson; Dostie struck again (assist by Rinaldi). Finally, one team seemed to seize a little momentum: Rinaldi struck again for Freeport, this time on a rebound – Nelson turned in a spectacular first save, but couldn’t rake the ball in for control, and Rinaldi pounced.

The Falcons’ momentum proved illusory, though, as the Lakers notched the next two – one by Shanks (from Lindsey Keenan) and one by Jakobs (barely 11 seconds later, directly off the draw) – balanced the scoreboard. Siebert and Freeport’s Margaret Perrotta then traded blows for 5-5.

“They were outhustling us and getting most of the ground balls most of the first half,” Coach Keenan said, asked what the Falcons did right in the early going to give his girls fits and starts. “But our defense got much stronger as the half progressed and our offense caught on fire near the end. The defense made some great stops and had several crucial takeaways, then the offense took over and did a tremendous job of moving the ball and finding the open cutters.”

That, however, is where things started to go entirely wrong for the Falcons, and entirely right for the Lakers: Shanks, Bonenfant and Lindsey Keenan tallied rapid-fire, shunting LRHS out front 8-5 and assuming thorough command of the action. By the break, Lake Region had heaped up a 10-6 advantage – one they continued to build on in the downhill minutes, when they outpaced Freeport 9-2.

“I’m happy with how they played in the first half,” Freeport head coach Marcia Wood said of her girls. “But when Lake Region scored two, late in the first half, we got deflated and couldn’t catch up. They picked up their defense, too. And we made too many mistakes.”

For the Lakers, Shanks finished the evening with five goals and three assists, Lindsey Keenan with four goals and six assists, Bonenfant with four and two. Siebert added a hat trick, and Jakobs two.

“Really everyone had a very good game today,” Coach Keenan said. “Both goalies played well as did the defense, led by Olivia Deschenes, Hailey Parsons, Shayla Dunn, and Alli Vogle. Our offense has played well all year. Today the scoring was led by Rachel, Lindsey, Melissa and Lauren Jakobs. We also had several freshmen play outstanding again today including Mackenzie, Shauna, and Bella, handling the draw and midfield responsibilities.”

For the Falcons, Rinaldi concluded the outing with four goals and one assist. Dostie picked up two goals and one assist, total, and Perrotta a pair of goals. Davidson finished with a pair of assists.

Freeport retires for the year at 9-5; Lake Region bumps to 12-2.

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Hailey Parsons defends for the Lakers.

Laker Paige Davis hounds a Freeport opponent.

Aisley Sturk tracks the action for LRHS.

Lakers Lauren Jakobs (left) and Paige Davis (right) converge on Falcon Paige Rinaldi, attacking.

Olivia Deschenes breaks out for the Lakers.

LRHS netminder Maddie Nelson defends.

LRHS head coach Dave Keenan debriefs his girls following their huge win over NYA.

Hailey Parsons duels with a Panthers opponent.

Isabelle Davis-White added one goal in the Lakers’ win vs. NYA.

Paige Davis kicked in a pair of goals for the Lakers in their easy victory vs. NYA.

Laker Emma Brown carries on the attack vs. NYA.

Shauna Hancock pushes inward on the attack for LRHS.

Lindsey Keenan curls away from a NYA opponent; Keenan contributed a hat trick in the game.

Bella Russo cuts forward on the attack for LRHS in their win over NYA.

Mackenzie Siebert chases after a Freeport attacker.