LADUE — At the start of the season, the players and coaches of the Summit girls lacrosse team brainstormed a motto that could provide direction for the season and be worn proudly on t-shirts.
They decided on “Feel the thunder” – the idea, that through their play, they would make enough noise to be noticed.
On Saturday, the Falcons hit the lacrosse community with a sonic boom.
Lauren Metzler scored four times, Mya Chandler made 11 saves and the Falcons’ defense held the Angels to just two second-half goals as Summit defeated St. Joseph’s 9-6 to win its first ever Missouri Scholastic Lacrosse Association state championship in the title tilt at John Burroughs.
Summit (18-1) became the first public school since Lafayette in 2000 to win the girls lacrosse title.
The turning point came midway through the second half. With the score tied 5-5, two of Summit’s top defenders, Cameron Crews and Ashley Manalang were served yellow cards and penalized for two minutes each.
That's when Summit senior goalie Chandler, who admitted to getting only three hours of sleep with a recurring nightmare of missing the game, showed up in a big way.
During the two-player disadvantage, Chandler stuffed Ellie Boveri on a free position shot and Margey Mullen on a point-blank attempt, then heaved a pass to Metzler, who found Sophia Oliva for the go-ahead goal.
“Those kind of shots are really nerve-wracking because it’s just them and me,” Chandler said. “I’ve been feeling pretty confident on the eight-meters lately, but I knew we made a mistake and my team really needed me.”
After junior Kaila Larocque gave Summit a 7-5 lead, the Falcons were assessed another penalty with less than 10 minutes remaining. But again, Chandler made a key save. Crews hit Metzler with a long pass, and Summit had broken the game open.
“We’re not strangers to yellow cards,” junior Ronnie Skorcz said as she squeezed the medal draped around her neck. “We work on three-v-two, we know how to slide and we know to get the ball back.”
Metzler pushed the lead to 9-5 by scoring on a long pass from Crews with under five minutes to play to set the stage for a celebration.
At the outset, that celebration did not look like it would happen as jittery nerves and St. Joseph’s skill put Summit behind early.
Larocque, who scored four goals in the semifinal win against Lafayette, threw her first pass into heavy traffic, then moments later, sailed a shot several feet above the goal.
“That first pass definitely had some nerves with it,” Larocque said. “But my teammates gave me pep talks and helped shake (the nerves) out of me.”
After Metzler opened the scoring for Summit, St Joseph’s midfielders Boveri and Catey Roux showed why they have caused defensive headaches for their opponents all season.
First, Boveri displayed her blazing speed by sneaking from behind the net and converting on a wraparound. Roux scored her 77th goal of the season 33 seconds later, but the Summit defense held the explosive sophomore scoreless for the remainder of the game.
“We knew coming in that they were a great defensive team,” Roux said. “They were really marking up tight, but we could have pushed through. It just wasn’t enough from us.”
St. Joseph’s (13-6) took a 3-1 lead on Carrie Wildeison’s goal, but Summit methodically began to get to its game. Long passes out of the defensive zone began to create transition opportunities and when Metzler took a long outlet from Crews and scored on the run, the game was tied 3-3.
Boveri gave St. Joseph's its final lead on a free position shot, but Skorcz and Kaylee Smarr capitalized on a player-advantage in the final two minutes to give Summit a 5-4 lead at halftime.
Several times during the game, the Summit students on one side of the stadium would thunder “S-U-M,” while the parents on the other side would shout “M-I-T” – proof that the Falcons’ had indeed made the noise they had hoped to within the community.
“We have a lot of alum who are here today and to see the joy in their eyes is special,” Summit coach David Gibson said. “It really is a whole school-wide event, feeling that love from the students.”