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WAKE FOREST — For the first time in program history, Heritage’s girls lacrosse team beat their rival Wakefield and did so in convincing fashion with a 16-5 victory at home on Friday, March 29.
The Huskies started the game down 3-0 after three consecutive goals in four minutes from Wakefield’s Meredith Mann. Sydney Garff scored the first goal from Heritage four and a half minutes into the match.
Heritage tied the game at 4-4 with a goal from freshman Brooke Szczypinski. Mann broke the tie for the Wolverines with another goal to make it 5-4. After that moment, Wakefield never scored again.
Szczypinski tied the game again with another goal and then six minutes later, Jessica Hennings scored her second goal of the match to give the Huskies their first lead of the game at 6-5.
Heritage went into halftime with the one goal lead. Then in the second half, the Huskies completely shut down the Wolverines, outscoring their rival 10-0 to run away with the 16-5 win.
“All season, the girls come out a little sluggish to start the game,” Heritage head coach Vanessa Southworth said. “We made adjustments along the way. We were able to shut down Wakefield’s top scorer. The defense started to communicate. We started moving and everyone contributed. We showed what kind of team we can be.”
The Huskies scored 12 unanswered goals after being down 5-4 with nine minutes left in the first half. Heritage’s defense stepped up in a big way with their goalkeeper, Maggie Clark, finishing the night with 14 saves. Southworth said the team talked about shutting down Wakefield in the second half during the halftime break and they accomplished that goal.
“Our goal at halftime was to not let Wakefield score in the second half,” Southworth said. “We know we have the best goalie out there. We played better and communicated.”
Offensively, the Huskies were led by the senior and freshman duo of Garff and Szczypinski. Garff ended the night with six goals and two assists. Szczypinski scored five goals.
“Sydney and Brooke have such a great relationship,” Southworth said. “They jive together. We’ve have some good team bonding within the past couple of weeks. They do a lot together off the field. They know where they’re going to be on the field. They know each other’s strengths. They’re great kids.”
Garff said it took a while for her teammates to get going, but once they did, the goals kept going. Garff leads Heritage this season with 34 goals and 12 assists.
“We were slow in the first half, but we started working together in the second half,” Garff said. “We’ve gotten a lot closer as teammates during our practices.”
As a freshman, Szczypinski is second on the team with 30 goals. She also has seven assists this year.
“We’ve done some team bonding and I feel like it has helped a lot,” Szczypinski said. “It has helped with our communication on the field.”
Garff also praised her teammate Clark for not letting a single goal go in for the entire second half. The senior goalie has only allowed seven goals in the past two games.
“Our goalie, Maggie, didn’t give up a single shot,” Garff said. “Our defense was keeping Wakefield out and sliding along the field. We did a good job not turning the ball over.”
In the past, Wakefield always had the upper hand against Heritage. The Wolverines never lost to the Huskies in the past eight years. Last season, Heritage came close and only lost by one goal in a 13-12 matchup. This year, the Huskies finally checked the box. For seniors like Garff, who has lost to the Wolverines every year, the win is especially sweet.
“It feels really good to beat Wakefield,” Garff said. “It’s so awesome to finally get a win over them.”
With the loss, Wakefield dropped to 4-3 overall. The loss at Heritage is its first NAC 6 conference loss of the season to put them at 3-1 in conference play. The Wolverines have dropped two in a row, including a 13-10 loss to Green Hope on March 26.
As for Heritage, they have won four in a row to improve their record to 5-5 and 3-2 in NAC 6 conference play. Southworth said this season is reflective on how the team plays in a game, which is a slow start, but then finally picks up later on. The Huskies started the year 1-5, but have now made significant progress.
“We had a rough start to the season, but now with this momentum, we know we can beat anyone,” Southworth said. “The girls are starting to feel confident. We’re going to keep it one game at a time for the rest of the season.”
Heritage will play at East Chapel Hill on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Wakefield will play Wake Forest at home today at 6:30 p.m.