Written by Jeff Vorva
By Jon DePaolis
Headed into halftime with just a one-goal lead over St. Francis, Mother McAuley girls lacrosse coach Ann Piejko knew her team needed to alter its defensive scheme.
“We adjusted our strategy a little bit,” Piejko said. “We played a different defense, called the backer — which not many teams play anymore. We also just weren’t used to it, so we needed halftime to readjust and figure it out, which I think we did.”
The Mighty Macs not only upped their defensive pressure but they also dominated on offense, laying siege to the St. Francis defensive zone en route to a 15-4 victory on Saturday, April 21.
In the first half, the Mighty Macs relied on sophomore Abbey Murphy, who scored three of her game-high five goals in the opening stanza.
“Get used to it … she’s fun to watch,” Piejko said of Murphy. “Abbey just got back from Russia. She’s an amazing hockey player who scored two of the three winning goals on the U.S. U18 team.”
Murphy’s effort was enough to give her team a narrow 3-2 lead headed into intermission.
“We had a game last night, too, and a really tough game coming up, so we rested a few of our key players in the first half — knowing in the second half that we could turn it around,” Piejko said.
St. Francis tied the game early in the second half with a goal by Beth Weizeorick ( two goals) with 22:49 left in the game.
But from there, the Mighty Macs went on two huge runs — a 4-1 spree to retake the lead, and an 8-0 blitz over the last 11 minutes of the game to leave with the double-digit victory.
“What I’m a huge fan of is that after the first half, a lot more assists were handed out, which is harder to do,” Piejko said. “You have a greater risk every time you kind of thread the needle in the eight. We were kind of trying to do things we needed to work on as a team, with moving the season forward.”
The Mighty Macs’ offense was more spread out in second half, with Murphy and eight other Mighty Macs players scoring goals.
The Mighty Macs improved to .500 on the season (5-5 record) with the win. The victory was preceded the day before by a 13-4 blowout win over the District 230 co-op in Orland Park.