Weeks from now, once the sticks are down and goal celebrations have gone quiet into history, the Cedar Crest girls lacrosse team will reconvene one final time for its annual banquet. And at that banquet, when the Falcons and coach Emma Lebo come to reflect on their loss Saturday, they're going to smile more than you'd think.
For now, though, that defeat is going into the record books like any other. No matter how close they came to victory after putting a multitude of obstacles in their rear view.
Despite erasing a five-goal second-half deficit, Cedar Crest fell, 16-15, to Lower Dauphin in a non-league, morning tilt at Earl Boltz Stadium. Cedar Crest (3-12, 2-8 Lancaster-Lebanon) trailed by at least five on three separate instances, yet worked back to claim a slim lead with 3:24 remaining. The visiting Falcons (7-7) then took control of the ensuing draw controls and went ahead for good on a pair of Sam Markley scores.
Riley Blatt netted five goals, tops for Cedar Crest.
"They didn't give up when they were down, and they gave it a fighting shot," Lebo said of her squad. "Unfortunately I think that there were a lot of calls that should've gone in our favor that would've given us the lead. This is a win in my book, for sure."
Lower Dauphin repeatedly gouged Cedar Crest early via transition scores, which furnished a 9-4 margin at six minutes left until halftime. Markley was one of three visitors to notch a hat trick, matching Natalie Holl and Allison Bitting, each of whom also earned an assist.
"Transition really came through for us today, and it's something we've been working hard on all season," Falcons coach Megan Etter said. "It's about making sure we're spread out enough and being aware of where the next pass is going."
The hosting Falcons then began to dig themselves out with help from unlikely sources, including Olivia Hains, who tallied three goals after recording her first at the varsity level on Thursday. Hains' last from the weekend, fed by a Tiana Ditzler assist, brought Cedar Crest to within 14-12 at less than nine minutes to go.
Teammate Avery Stoddard also recorded a hat trick.
"All around, we learned that we don't just depend on our leading scorers," Lebo said. "We have to take advantage of all the scoring opportunities we get."
And that's exactly what Lebo's Falcons continued to do, morphing their latest five-goal hole into a lead by applying additional defensive pressure on all areas of the field. Maddie Barron supplied the game-tier less than two minutes before Gracen Donmoyer lifted her team to a short-lived advantage at 3:24, only to then watch Markley and Co. depart with a win Cedar Crest believed belonged at home.