MAMARONECK When a Putnam Valley team wins a sectional title, a banner is displayed in the school’s athletic hallway listing the players and coaches.
On Friday night, the No. 2-seeded Tigers’ girls lacrosse team earned the program’s first banner with an 11-9 win over No. 13 Albertus Magnus in the Class C final at Mamaroneck.
“To have the younger kids look up to (the banner) and say, ‘Wow, that’s Putnam Valley lacrosse right there,” Tigers senior Erin McCrudden said.
Putnam Valley will play Section 2’s Albany Academy in the regional semifinals at Fox Lane Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Samantha Cunningham led Putnam Valley with five goals, while Eva Rabson added four. Mel Wagner notched two goals and two assists.
The Falcons, however, jumped out to a 3-1 lead to start the game.
The Tigers responded as Rabson scored on a feed from Wagner, followed by unassisted goals from Cunningham and Wagner, all in less than three minutes.
Cunningham found Rabson to push Putnam Valley’s lead to two with 6:55 remaining.
“We said we’re going to have a few minutes of jitters and then it’s over,” Putnam Valley assistant coach Kristie Worell said.
A goal by Lauren Gruffi ended the Tigers’ run and cut their lead to one with just over a minute remaining in the half, but a Rabson goal gave Putnam Valley a 6-4 lead at halftime.
“We kind of have a silent confidence to ourselves,” Wagner said. “Every time they score a goal we’re like, OK, we’re right back in it; two goals for every one goal. We just realize it’s not the end, and we’re going to pull out strong.”
Dana O’Sullivan scored to cut the Albertus deficit to one to open the half, but Cunningham answered for the Tigers with her third and fourth goals to put them up 8-5 with 19:43 remaining.
Goals from Mikaela Connell, Kristin Lynch and Gruffi — all coming within three minutes of one another — tied the score at 8-8 and forced the Tigers to call a timeout.
“In that timeout, we said it’s a new game,” Rabson said. “From now on, we’re getting the draws and we’re going down and setting our plays and winning.”
Wagner put the Tigers back ahead, scoring unassisted, but the lead was short-lived. Gruffi would finish her fourth goal of the game on a feed from Connell.
Cunningham found the back of the net for the fifth time of the night to give Putnam Valley a 10-9 lead. The eventual game winner was followed by an insurance goal from Rabson with 8:23 left.
“I’ve never been so happy in my entire life,” Cunningham said. “With all the trust in each other and our coaches, we just were able to work together and pull through.”
Photos courtesy of John Meore/The Journal News. For the entire gallery click here.