Novato took more than a period to warm up on Saturday morning, but once it did, the Davis High girls lacrosse team couldn’t find a way to keep the visitors from rolling to an impressive 18-13 win at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium.
The contest completed a stretch of five games in five days for the locals, which also included a 15-3 win over Bella Vista on Friday.
After leading by as many as three goals in the first half on Saturday, the Blue Devils saw their advantage evaporate in the second, when the Hornets turned in an 8-1 run that included a stretch of six straight unanswered goals.
The surge was a product of the Novato’s dominant performance at midfield. It won the vast majority of draw controls in the second half, keeping DHS (4-5) on the defensive end, where their numerous scorers could do little to reclaim the momentum.
“Draw controls were just killing us,” DHS head coach Jennifer Morris told The Enterprise. “And when we’re not winning those, we feel this letdown because we know that we always have to start on the defensive side and then work our way back up. That was frustrating and that’s where we started having that big letdown.
“You can’t respond if you’re not getting the ball.”
After the Blue Devils saw a 9-8 lead morph into a multiple-goal advantage for Novato in a matter of minutes, they moved USC-bound senior Kylie Drexel to the center in an effort to win more possessions. But Drexel — who notched three goals and two assists and played her usual stifling open-field defense — couldn’t turn the tide by herself.
“We were trying to move her around because she’s usually really strong at getting (draw controls),” Morris said of Drexel. “Unfortunately, she can’t be everywhere so I needed some other people to get in there and it was one of those days where Kelly (Chuck) got a couple, Kylie had a couple, but we weren’t getting them as consistently as we expected to.”
In the first half, the Devils had no such problems. Behind the play of Drexel and Chuck, who finished with four goals and one assist, DHS got out to a 3-0 lead in the first few minutes and then held on to their advantage even as the Hornets began to find their footing. The Blue Devils led 7-6 at intermission.
DHS continued to roll in early portion of the second half, getting another goal from Chuck and a highlight play from Kiki Tanaka and Sarah Bloise that featured Bloise circling around the perimeter and floating a high pass down to Tanaka, who flipped the ball into the net. It was after Tanaka’s goal — which made it 9-8 — that things began to fall apart for the Devils.
The Hornets scored six straight goals to take a 14-9 lead and then added two more after Chuck briefly interrupted their surge with a tally down the middle. At that point, leading 16-10 with 10:01 left to play, Novato had the game basically locked up.
For DHS, Tanaka and Bloise each posted two goals and one assist. Ceci Cajandig, in her first full game back after recovering from a concussion, and Emmanuelle Cordier rounded out the scoring with one goal apiece.
Cajandig played just a few minutes on Friday, but was one of 11 different Blue Devil scorers, with a goal and two assists.
“It was so nice to have her on the field again,” Morris said after the win over Bella Vista. “She is such a calm presence in midfield and that is exactly what we have been missing. She transitions the ball well, and helps her teammates on both ends of the field.”
Chuck and Bloise both had hat tricks in that game, and Lydia Gegan, Lucy Hass, Clare Saiki, Christina Son and Jordan Glassman each got into the act with their first goals of the season. Lani Chang added one goal for Davis, while goalie Chelsey Nickell posted five saves.
Notes: The Devils will have a long break to regroup as they don’t play again until April 9, when they host Granite Bay. … Morris is happy to have the practice time and expects DHS to improve in several key areas during the break from competition. “We’re playing a little too cautious (on Saturday),” she said. “We’re putting great pressure on the ball, but then the person who should be stepping up and going for interceptions and getting those ground balls off bad passes, they were playing too far back. That’s something we’re going to be working on next week. We haven’t had practice in a while, so that’ll be something we really, really get into, coming up here.”