ATLANTA — For most of the season, particularly the latter half, mental toughness had been tough to come by for the Lambert girls lacrosse team, according to head coach Kate Sedwick.
In Monday’s Class AAAA-A first round state playoff match against No. 4-ranked Westminter (17-2), the Lady Longhorns had mental toughness in abundance. It was the goals that were hard to come by.
Lambert (9-9) eventually fell to the Wildcats 12-4 on the Westminster campus despite showing improvements from the previous meeting against them.
Just six days earlier, Westminster defeated Lambert 14-1 in a regular season game on the same field. The loss was one of six suffered by the Lady Longhorns in their final seven games.
“The second half of the season was extremely challenging for us,” Sedwick said. “I scheduled some very tough teams and figured we would take some losses, but be better off for it and stronger in the playoffs.”
But Sedwick said she had to have a talk with her players about being tough minded after the first loss to Westminster.
“We had to revisit our mental approach because it was something we struggled with all year,” Sedwick said. “We had to work on getting better at staying positive. Don’t get overwhelmed by thinking about 50 minutes, or even 25 minutes. Think about playing well for three minutes. Work hard and stay focused for three minutes, and then do the same for the next three minutes after that.”
The Lady Horns took the message to heart and jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the game’s first three minutes on a goal by junior Emma Harrison. But Westminster quickly seized control with four consecutive goals, two by senior attacker Eve Knapp, to build a 4-1 lead.
Lambert responded with two more goals by Harrison to close the gap to just 4-3 midway through the first half.
“[Mentally] it all clicked today,” Sedwick said. “I was very proud of the way we fought back. The outcome didn’t eventually go our way, but it was a great effort.”
Westminster scored four goals to close out the half, including another by Knapp, one of her four in the game.
The Wildcats piled on three more goals in the second half, before Lambert senior Madi Foster netted her team’s final goal of the season with a little over 11 minutes left in the game, making the score 11-4. Westminster junior midfielder Anna Silverstein added the final goal of the night two minutes later to close the scoring.
It was a bittersweet contest for Sedwick, who was an assistant for four seasons at Westminister under head coach Jay Watts.
“I learned so much from him and I know all of those girls,” said Sedwick, who left Westminster to start the program at Lambert three seasons ago. “That’s a great team and a great program.”
But she believes Lambert is on its way to being an elite program as well, advancing to the state playoffs in just three seasons of varsity competition. She said the next step in advancement is to continue growing the sport and exposing more young girls to it. She plans to do her part by hosting an instructional camp at Lambert this summer.
“We just have to get more girls playing the sport at a younger age,” Sedwick said. “Our JV team had a great season (11-2), and so I’m excited about next year. I’m proud to be where I am now and proud of what we did today.”