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Lacrosse advances to MPSF championship game following 16-6 drubbing of Fresno State

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The Aztecs celebrate a goal during the teams 16-6 victory over Fresno State in the MPSF Championship semifinals on April 27 at the Aztec Lacrosse Field.

The Aztecs celebrate a goal during the teams 16-6 victory over Fresno State in the MPSF Championship semifinals on April 27 at the Aztec Lacrosse Field.

Photo by Kelly Smiley

Photo by Kelly Smiley

The Aztecs celebrate a goal during the teams 16-6 victory over Fresno State in the MPSF Championship semifinals on April 27 at the Aztec Lacrosse Field.

by Kyle Betz, Staff Writer

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San Diego State lacrosse sophomore midfielder Ryli Quinn scored a goal to give the Aztecs a 16-1 lead over Fresno State University, with just over 13 minutes remaining in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship semifinal on April 27 at the Aztec Lacrosse Field.

Fresno’s bench looked shocked, and even SDSU head coach Kylee White said after the game that she did not expect her team to to take a 15-goal lead.

“I didn’t expect it to be that big,” White said. “I had confidence in our abilities, but I thought it was going to be a battle until the end. When things started rolling, it was fun.”

The Aztecs went on to cruise to a 16-6 victory, despite giving up five straight goals to end the game after taking out many of their starters.

The win earned SDSU a date in the MPSF Championship Game against No. 1-seed UC Davis on April 29.

The Aztecs (10-8) had 12 different players score a goal, and were led by junior midfielders Harlowe Steele, Grace McGinty, and Paige Hudak. Steele scored a hattrick, while McGinty and Hudak scored two goals apiece.

Steele said that the team knew they had to play hard against the Bulldogs (9-9).

“They’ve been our rivals for a long time, so our goal was to play a full 60 minutes,” Steele said. “It started from the beginning, and everyone had great energy. We just started hot, and we just kept it going through the whole game.”

Steele said that the Aztecs prepared for Fresno during practice this week as if they were facing them live.

“We had a really great week of practice,” Steele said. “We know this team pretty well, so we just practiced really hard. We pretended to play against them all week, so it just prepared us for them this whole week.”

Steele won four draw controls and scored each of her shot attempts, earning White’s praise.

“(Steele) was all over the stat sheet. I thought she played amazing,” White said.

White said that the Aztecs did indeed adjust their gameplan in practice to prepare for Fresno.

“We really focused this week on a new offensive play; we really buckled down on some defensive things like picks and screens. We cleaned that up a little bit,” White said.

SDSU entered halftime with a commanding 11-1 lead, and played the majority of the second half with the running clock rule enforced.

The Aztecs dominated nearly every aspect of the game, outshooting the Bulldogs 35-15 and scoring seven free-position shots.

Junior midfielder Natalie Peel scored a goal and collected an assist, and said that teamwork was essential in the victory.

“We really worked together; had each other’s back,” Peel said. “We were really disciplined, hunted in packs, and won the hustle plays.”

The championship game will be a rematch from earlier this month, when the Aztecs allowed seven unanswered goals in the final 16 minutes during a 15-9 loss to Davis on April 8.

However, the Aztecs were dealing with injury troubles before that game.

Starting redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Katy Sharretts was sidelined with a concussion, while junior midfielder Jill Haight tore her meniscus just days before. Haight played through the injury, scoring two goals and assisting one.

This time, SDSU will compete against Davis at full strength, and Steele says her team has a winning mentality heading into the championship.

“We’re coming out hard,” Steele said. “We want to win; we’re gonna give ‘em everything we got. We want to start hot again and just keep that energy through the entire game.”

White is excited for another opportunity to compete against the Aggies.

“The first time we played Davis, we weren’t on. It wasn’t the best game, so we get sort of a do-over on our field, which is exciting,” White said. “I think if we just take care of the little things again, like we did today, it’ll be our first championship.”

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