Seneca Valley hosts last home game before rebuilding

xKnights vs. SV Eagles LAX 3Seneca's Jamus Jupin faces off against Wheaton's Delantae Henderson-Feist.                 PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE 

GERMANTOWN — In the early game, the rain held off and the Seneca Valley Screamin’ Eagles girls varsity lacrosse team (1-7) picked up its first win of the season in a dramatic 6-5 win over the Wheaton Knights (4-6), while in the night cap, the rain came down as the Seneca Valley Screamin’ Eagles boys varsity lacrosse team (0-11) remained winless, losing to the Wheaton Knights (2-10) 14-4 at Seneca Valley field on Thursday evening.

The Seneca Valley field referred to as Death Valley, home to the Eagles since the 1970s, hosted its last games as the whole school will be rebuilt including the field.

For Seneca Valley girls’ lacrosse, the team was pleased that the final game for these Eagles was a win.

Eagles girls head coach Lindsay Harris said of the win, “At halftime, we also came together as a team and talked about how this was going to be the last lacrosse game played on this field. We wanted to win for our seniors. And all of the underclassmen really came together and said we need to come out full intensity and be ready to go. Said that this last game played on this field be a win for this school.”

The stars of the game for the Eagles were junior attacker Lexi Opdenaker (2 goals), sophomore attacker Nikki Curtis (1 goal) and junior midfielder Alyssa Delgadillo (1 goal, 2 assists). Another key contributor for the Eagles with an assist was senior attacker Dini Khiangte.

xKnights vs. SV Eagles LAX 1Wheaton's Lateefa Alli gets mobbed by four Seneca players before she can get her shot off. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE  

Opdenaker was motivated to bring home the win for her Eagles, saying, “Honestly, for me tonight, I’m a junior so we have next season, but this is our last game on the field, so it was like an end-all, leave-it-all-on-the-field kind of thing. So, that was my momentum to get me through the game.”

With the score at half, Knights 4, Eagles 3, the Eagles wasted no time starting the second half on a high note. Opdenaker scored off an assist from Delgadillo at the 24:05 mark, less than a minute into the second half, tying the game at 4.

At the 19:42 mark, Knights senior midfielder Cassindra Washington was given a two-minute infraction, causing the Knights to be one player down.

As a result, Opdenaker wasted no time, converting at the 18:46 mark with her second goal of the half.

Sixteen seconds later, Delgadillo found Curtis for an acrobatic goal and a 6-4 lead.

Said Curtis, “We’re a man down at that point. And I think it was Alyssa who passed it to me. And I was open in the eight by myself, so I switch it and shot it. And that was a great feeling. That was my second goal of the season.”

Curtis adding that the shot got by the Knights junior goalie Samantha Jacobson, saying, “Yeah, I shot it right over her head.”

Delgadillo agreed that the Curtis goal was the play of the game, saying, “I think definitely my pass to Nikki. Like that was such an awesome goal. Left handed. I thought that was the shot.”  

The Knights and Eagles played even for most of the rest of the game. Neither team could find the net for over the next 10 minutes.

However, at the 5:53 mark, Knights senior midfielder Heven Haile (3 goals) put in an unassisted goal to cut the lead to 6-5.

xKnights vs. SV Eagles LAX 2Seneca Valley's Alexis Pulliam breaks away from the Wheaton defenders on a drive to the net. PHOTO BY DAVID WOLFE 

Knights head coach Shannon Holliday said of her star player that “Haven’s a senior. Our top scorer this year. And top scorer last year … This year compare to last year, a lot more than one player contributing. Great turnaround and improvement for our program. I think we’re getting there. We’ve made a lot of improvements the last couple of years. It’s great.”

The last five minutes were played at a furious pace. Yet Eagles junior goalie Amber Gary would make a key save on junior defender Lateefa Ali (2 goals) to hold the lead with under a minute.

Delgadillo would proceed to push the ball into Knight’s territory forcing time to run out on the Knights’ comeback attempt.

“Very intense,” said Harris of the play during the final minute. “I was pulling my hair out a little bit. But our defense played well, and we were able to get it back and slow it down a bit.”

“It felt great to play on the last field. It’s kind of sad because this field has a lot of memories, but I’m just glad our last memory could be a good one.”

Wheaton Knights boys lacrosse head coach Jeremy Gelling described his overall team play, saying, “Feel great. Been working hard all season to put this type of game together. Passing, running and catching … the way we want to.”

The game played through the rain was sloppy at times. The Knights were led by the senior trio of midfielder Sandro Baiza Mendoza (3 goals), attacker Evan Bearman (3 goals) and midfielder Michael Yilma (3 goals) in their14-4 victory.

Bearman and YIlma were able to control play with a mix of slashing to the goal and power moves through the overmatched Eagles defense. Baiza seemed to be in the right place at the right time with a star-worthy performance.

Yilma said of the win, “I feel amazing. It feels good to win. It’s kind of hard because we know we are good, but we don’t have enough teamwork sometimes, enough team-bonding. But now together we have some good chemistry out there, to be good.”

Bearman talked about the conditions, saying, “So it started off a little bit windy and cloudy, and then as it got darker it started raining. And the main thing is the moisture just makes the pockets go weird. I had a shot that was yanked in the ground because I had not shot in a while. I wasn’t ready for what was going to happen so that was pretty bad. But the water feels nice when you’ve been running around because you’re working up some sweat and having the rain come down is nice.”

The poor conditions and rain seemed to keep the Eagles at bay.

Eagles head coach Dennis Whalen said, “We’re used to this field. This is our last game under this field. It’s very sentimental because my son (assistant and JV boys lacrosse head coach Brandon Whalen), actually played all on this field. And all of a sudden, a lot of memories of state champions playing here. And they’re going to be ripping it up here. Coming in with turf when the new field is here.”

The Knights looked like they were more ready to play in these conditions. As the rainfall amplified, the Knights increased their lead to 10.

The Eagles could not gain control of the ball very often throughout the contest. The hardworking squad got few scoring opportunities. Whether it was due to the conditions or the back end of a long season, the winless Eagles were not able to slow down the Knights. Eagles senior midfielder Samuel Maisel and junior midfielder Jemus Jupin each had a goal.

“Our middies always play tough. Samuel Maisel and Jemus Jupin. Jupin played the game without coming out,” said Whalen.

Check out the photo galleries for this story! Girls / Boys

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