The Riverside-Brookfield High School girls lacrosse team has notched some big wins this season on their way to a 7-3 record, with their latest coming at a perfect time.
The Bulldogs defeated St. Francis 12-10 on May 20 at in Brookfield, behind a seven-goal performance by senior Jane Durkin and 15 saves by junior goaltender Ella Gomez.
“Our game against St. Francis was so important for us to win,” Gomez said. “We needed to break out of a three-game losing streak and get our confidence back so we can go into the last two weeks of the season strong and make our goal of making the playoffs.”
Just before the end of the first half, junior Alyssa Pencak scored the game-tying goal on a pass from Durkin, and the Bulldogs then won the following draw and held the ball for the final shot of the first half and headed into halftime with a one goal lead.
Pencak finished the day with two goals while sophomore Ava Regan, junior Sarah Wood and freshman Maggie Durkin each scored once.
Midfield and defense have been strong for the Bulldogs, especially Gomez’s goaltending. Gomez has saved 51 percent of shots thrown at her this season and is ranked eighth in the state in that category. She’s also ranked fourth in state in the number of saves with 75.
Jane Durkin, who has committed to Central Michigan and is ranked sixth in the state with 52 goals, along with Pencak and senior Morgan Daun, make up the solid midfield for RBHS. Junior Grace Cavanaugh, senior Hannah Grace-Smith and junior Emeli Romo have been solid on defense.
“We have strong midfield players that consistently make great plays on both offense and defense,” Gomez said. “Our defense has been strong in keeping the opposing team away from the net, which gives me time to watch the field and anticipate the shots so I am better prepared to make saves when there is a shot on goal.”
Other key wins for RBHS have come against Fenwick and Lake Forest Academy in tight contests.
“Those wins gave them confidence,” said head coach Matt Bultas. “They need to have the confidence that they belong among the top teams in the state of Illinois.”
These Bulldogs also have the added notoriety of being the first girls varsity lacrosse team RBHS has fielded, and Gomez says they want to prove they belong.
“Our team made it our mission from the start of the season that we want to make the playoffs and show the school and community that starting a girls lacrosse team at RB was the right decision,” Gomez said. “Lacrosse is a growing sport in this area, and having a winning team will show younger girls that they have something to work towards.”