By Mike Zummo
The hugs were plentiful, and so were the selfies as Wallkill’s inaugural varsity girls’ lacrosse season came to an end on Thursday with a 14-8 loss to the Highland Huskies.
While the Panthers fell short of their goal of qualifying for the Section 9 Class B tournament, they finished with a 6-10 record and a 1-5 record in their league. They played in a loaded Section 9 Class B, which also included the Warwick Wildcats and the Minisink Valley Warriors, who lost one game each.
Only the top four teams – Warwick, Minisink Valley, Valley Central and Cornwall – qualified for the sectional tournament.
The season came to a rough end for the Panthers, who finished losing three in a row and seven of their last eight. Their last win was a 13-12 victory over the Newburgh Free Academy Goldbacks on May 9. They got their first varsity win over the Goldbacks on March 31. They also posted wins over New Paltz, Middletown, and two victories over the FDR Presidents.
The Panthers also finished the season without their head coach Frank Croce, who was out for medical reasons.
On Thursday afternoon, they had to contend with several Highland attackers as Joann Williams led all Huskies’ scorers with four goals. Annabella Bruschetti was right behind her with three goals. Quinn Ahrenholz, Leah Klotz and Jessica Rendon scored two goals each. Kelcey Whalen added one.
The Panthers were led by Emma DiLemme and Grace Winchell, who scored three goals each. Brianna Merrill scored two goals.
The two teams traded goals at the start, but Klotz scored her first goal, starting a run of four straight Highland goals that gave the Huskies a 5-1 lead with 13:04 remaining in the first half.
DiLemme stopped the bleeding with a goal with 12:41 to go in the half and then Winchell followed with one of her own, off an assist from Merrill to cut Highland’s lead to 5-3.
Williams scored three straight goals for the Huskies to send her team into halftime with an 8-3 lead.
Even trailing by five goals, the Panthers remained pesky in the second half.
DiLemme scored a goal to pull the Panthers within four with about 23 minutes to go. From there, the Panthers and Huskies traded goals until Winchell’s goal pulled the Panthers to within 10-7 with 11:15 remaining.
That goal came about a minute after Caitlin Becker received a red card for a dangerous play, leaving the Huskies down a player for the game’s last 12:42.
However, the Huskies restored their five-goal lead with scores from Klotz and Ahrenholz. After another goal from Merrill, the Huskies scored the final two goals to finish the game.