By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG -- Danville was making its first appearance in the district final. The Ironmen reached it by outlasting Selinsgrove in the semifinals and were looking to play the role of the popular, new kid and knock off Lewisburg, a perennial title contender.
However, Lewisburg went on a run late in the first half and did not look back, capturing the District 4 title in girls lacrosse in a 12-4 rout.
With her team advancing to the state tournament, Lewisburg coach Janelle Groff hoped that the play of her girls and the district title the team had just won will continue to spark interest in the game at the middle school level in the area.
Despite being down 9-3 late in the second half, the Ironmen refused to give in and simply hand the Green Dragons the gold medal, showing a never-say-die attitude that will serve a young team well in the coming years.
"This is a tremendous effort from (my girls)," Danville coach Carlene Klena said. "I'm very proud of them from start to finish this season."
Klena added that she hopes the team will step back and be proud of its play this season, finishing with a 9-2 record.
Not that Danville's resiliency was surprising with Kat Baum controlling the offense. The senior midfielder set an example for her younger teammates, taking a ball from her defensive side of the field, racing past the Lewisburg defense to the right side of the cage and scoring to cut the lead to 9-4.
Klena said that while she will not be able to fully replace the full spectrum of characteristics that her seniors brought to the team, but will benefit from having underclassman captains along with the senior Baum.
Jamie Ptacek scored slightly over two minutes into the game but the Ironmen quickly knotted the game at one on a goal from Martina Plafcan.
After the Green Dragons tied the game on a Ptacek goal at the 8:12 mark in the first half, leading to a Danville timeout, it appeared as if the Ironmen would quickly answer and retake the lead.
During the timeout, Groff gathered her players and stressed controlling the draws and leading to offensive opportunities and tighening their defense against an Ironmen team that had played somewhat patient offensively to that point.
Her players must have been listening, as the Green Dragons controlled a threat deep in their defensive zone and turned the miscue into a goal with Hannah Gotoff shooting in traffic and finding the back of the net.
Rather than a typical momentum swing where the flood gates open and one team starts to score in bunches, the Gotoff goal led to a steady attack and solid play on both sides instead of an offensive onslaught. Sarah Talabiska pushed the Green Dragons' lead to two and passed to Lisa Steinbuhl near the left side of the goal for a close-range goal and a 5-2 halftime lead.
The Ironmen opened the scoring in the second half with a player that began the second on the sideline, serving a two minute penalty for a yellow card before the end of the first half. Plafcan ran onto the field after her penalty expired and scored an unassisted goal around the left side of the cage.
The goal from Plafcan would be the closest that the Ironmen would come to tying the game as the Green Dragons scored four straight goals to push their lead to six at 9-3.
The Green Dragons continue to heed the advice of their coach in the second half, controlling draws and limiting the offensive opportunities for the Ironmen.