LACROSSE: Mattawan tourney run halted at Regionals

By: 
Matthew Day • couriersports@vineyardpress.biz
Grace Hazelhoff lets the ball fly into the net to score for Mattawan as the Wildcats  battled Grand Rapids Christian for Regional honors.  In the end, the Eagles came out on top, 14-11. Hot Shotz Photography/Matthew Day

   The Mattawan girls lacrosse team traveled to Grand Rapids Christian for the first round of Regional play against the home Eagles, and saw their season come to a close with a hard-fought 14-11 loss.  
   The Wildcats had faced off against GRC earlier in the season, and had walked away with a win. This time, the teams played even; as one would score, the other would come right back to even things up.
   Mattawan Coach Matt Stevens had said prior to the beginning of the game that this would be a close one; that even though the Wildcats had beaten GRC before, it was a close game. 
   At the half, the teams were tied at six. The Wildcats put up a good defense in the second half and stopped quite a few runs on their goal. But the Eagles eventually put together a four-score run on Mattawan with close to 15 minutes to go in the game. The Lady Cats gathered themselves and got back to scoring, but simply could not gain on the Lady Eagles, who would match each score with another of their own and keep a three-to four-point advantage. 
   The hot shooter for Mattawan was junior Grace Hazelhoff, who had seven shots on goal and converted a whopping five of them into goals.
   In the end, Stevens was happy with his team’s execution. He said both teams played very well and struggled with midfield transition, but had good passes and played clean. The real difference in the game, he said,  was from the circle, where the Wildcats lost the draws, 18-5. 
   “When you don’t win the draws, you make your job a heck of a lot harder,” said Stevens. “If we could have won half of the draws, then it’s a different game.” 
   Stevens was noticeably emotional for his seniors and how their career at Mattawan would end. The Wildcats graduate eight seniors, who will be very hard to replace; but Stevens has some strong underclassman coming back.  “We’ll be competitive next year,” he assured.
   Senior Addy Pastor said that the GRC team was “super smooth, and we just couldn’t catch them.” She wanted to point out that Mattawan girls lacrosse has come “a super long way from where we began. Four years ago, we would get blown out of the water by any Grand Rapids team, and we beat GRC once this year, and it was really close this second time. So, it just shows we’ve come a long way.” 
   Pastor will continue playing lacrosse at Kent State University next year. “I’m just going to ride it out freshman year, and then grind every day in practice and try and get myself on the field.” 

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