Carrying a big stick
Crawford scores 7 goals in Butler's girls lacrosse win
BUTLER TWP — Megan Crawford was one of the smallest girls on the field Thursday night. But in the game's biggest moment, she came up huge.
With Butler and Greater Latrobe all square and 42.3 seconds to play, Crawford sprinted forward on an 8-meter shot, slipped around a couple of defenders and delivered the decisive goal in the Golden Tornado's 14-13 girls lacrosse victory at Art Bernardi Stadium.
It was Crawford's seventh goal, giving the junior 11 in two games. Bailey Kraus scored five times for the Tornado, who never trailed after taking a 3-2 edge with left in the first half.
Butler (1-1) took a 13-9 lead — its largest of the game — when Kraus scored off a crisp pass in front of the net from Olivia Kappler with 13:08 remaining, but the Wildcats (0-1) fought back.
Katie Stallings provided the equalizer for Latrobe with 2:17 to go after knifing through the Tornado defense on a 50-yard sprint. The Wildcats threatened to take the lead just 20 seconds later, but Butler goalie Kyleigh Jarosinski turned away a shot from Stallings and the Tornado seized control from there.
“In the last two minutes, we got together, pulled everything together and we worked as a team,” said Crawford. “We went out there, we wanted it and it showed.”
“I was really proud that they played the whole way to the end,” said Butler coach Annie Tigano. “When it got close, we could tell they were a little nervous, but they really fought hard and you could tell they wanted it.”
Scoring came in bunches during the game's initial moments. Kraus won the opening faceoff and ran right through the defense to give Butler a 1-0 lead just 14 seconds in. The teams combined for seven goals in the first five minutes.
Although it was a tight contest throughout, Latrobe's only advantage came at 2-1.
The Tornado built a three-goal cushion twice in the first half, before taking a 10-8 lead into the break. Crawford and Kraus tallied four goals apiece in the opening 25 minutes. Kappler and Lauren Miller also scored for Butler.
“We were looking to pass, which is something we've worked on in practice,” said Crawford. “We were just working together. That's how a team is supposed to be. We knew what we had to do and we went out there and did it.”
Crawford was especially troublesome for the Wildcats. She began the final half by driving down the field for a score in 17 seconds.
“She's very fast and she's good with both her hands,” said Greater Latrobe coach Kaytie Russo of Crawford. “I think her size kind of helps her out, too, because she's so little.”
Tigano is happy Crawford is on her side.
“She's so quick and she has such good stick skills,” the Butler coach said. “She's someone that has worked all year for the last couple years to become a good player and it shows.”
Jarosinski led the Tornado with eight saves after entering in the second half. Kamryn Bernhard handled first-half goalie duties and stopped four shots.
Kaitlyn Bereit tallied six saves for the Wildcats, who outshot Butler 25-20.
Stallings and Jessica Kostic led Latrobe with four goals apiece. Anna Ayers had a goal and two assists, while Jocelyn Cawoski chipped in a pair of goals.
“It was a good game. I'm proud of how they played,” said Russo. “Offensively, they did really well — rolling the crease, setting up plays and getting the ball downfield.”
Tigano is pleased her team will enter section play at Shaler on Tuesday at 6 p.m. with a victory under its belt.
“It's good to go in with a win,” she said. “It was definitely good to see them really want it and fight for it. It's good momentum going into next week.”