Consider the South Western girls' lacrosse team's first tune-up a success.
In an easy 16-4 road win against Spring Grove on Monday, the Mustangs began prepping for next week's YAIAA tournament. They'll face either Kennard-Dale or York Catholic in next Tuesday's semifinals.
Mustangs coach Jim Kopenhaver mainly watched on Monday how his team implemented a new defense, which it had been practicing for some time. The change is partially to prepare for the YAIAA tournament and partially to present his players something new after a long season.
"Running against your own team, you can only do that for so long," Kopenhaver said. "You reach the point of diminishing returns where it doesn't really help you. When you're playing against anybody but your team, you can see things you can correct and adjust to. That's why at the beginning of the game I was a little more vocal and wanted us to do things a certain way."
Monday's game was never in doubt. The Mustangs scored in 13 seconds for a 1-0 lead and held a 10-0 lead after slightly more than 10 minutes. The margin invoked the mercy rule of a running clock.
By then, the Mustangs' offense had begun passing around the Spring Grove goal rather than attacking as a way to drain time from the clock. The early spurt negatively impacted the Rockets.
"I think they got down a little bit because the score was up," Rockets coach Sandy Grosberger said.
The Mustangs took a 13-0 lead into halftime, but the Rockets scored four of the seven second-half goals. Shelby Grosberger had two goals and an assist for the Rockets, and teammates Michaela Taylor and Brea Keiser each scored once.
The Mustangs, however, received four goals apiece from Erin Brown, Jessica Kopenhaver and Sydney Szparaga. Grosberger credited their success to a variety of reasons.
"They're fast," Grosberger said. "We don't have the running strength on our team. When you have a whole team that has the speed and ability, it's tough. They've got good D. Their stick skills are excellent."
But the defense was Kopenhaver's focus Monday. The Mustangs displayed a tight defense, swarming to any Rocket who held possession on the Mustangs' side of the field.
Spring Grove's four goals came as the Mustangs began substituting their best players.
"We did some things right, we did some things wrong," Kopenhaver said. "We tried to work on different things. We'll adjust and try to work on some things Wednesday and Friday. We're looking forward to county playoffs next week."
SOUTH WESTERN 16, SPRING GROVE 4
South Western 13 3 -- 16
Spring Grove 0 4 -- 4
South Western goals: Erin Brown 4, Jessica Kopenhaver 4, Sydney Szparaga 4, Callie Kavanaugh 2, Allie Miller, Lauren Schmidt
South Western assists: Braxtin Reddinger 2, Kavanaugh 2, Kopenhaver
Spring Grove goals: Shelby Grosberger 2, Michaela Taylor, Brea Keiser
Spring Grove assists: Grosberger
Goalies: SW, Laura Silver (3 saves); SG, Amanda Carver (4 saves)