Three Sisters reunite in tie

Posted 5/7/09

Although the Three Sisters Trophy game has always been close over the years, it can’t get any closer than the final minute and a half of this …

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Three Sisters reunite in tie


Although the Three Sisters Trophy game has always been close over the years, it can’t get any closer than the final minute and a half of this year’s match up.

After being down earlier in the game, Arapahoe High School girls lacrosse managed to catch up to cross-town rivals Heritage-Littleton May 4 at Littleton Public Schools Stadium.

The game, tied at 13, came down to which team would get the final draw with 1 minute, 30 seconds remaining. The Warriors won the draw, but the Gryphons’ defense and goaltender Jenna Pauline kept them out of the cage until the end of regulation.

Unfortunately, there would be no overtime period to determine a victor, because this season Arapahoe moved into a different league, making the Three Sisters match-up a nonconference game.

“A tie shows we had the discipline to come up with the ball and hold it until the last 15 seconds,” Arapahoe coach Katherine Peska said. “That was exactly what I asked them to do, and that’s exactly what they did, cause they wanted one more shot to go off on our end of the field. A tie for this game is important, cause you never know what’s going to happen in this game. Everyone is just out to leave it all on the field, both teams.”

Last year, the two teams met each other in a double-overtime finale. Although both teams and spectators would liked to have seen a decided winner, players appeared to be accepting of the outcome.

“It’s all in good fun,” said the Gryphons’ Liz Datino, who finished with four goals and one assist. “Both teams are very hardworking. Both teams are very good. Even though the outcome would have been so much more exciting, that’s fine. That’s how things turn out. We know how to expect it and move forward.”

Anna Salemo also had four goals and one assist for Heritage-Littleton.

Arapahoe’s Megan O’Donnell, who booked three goals and one assist, said the Warriors look forward to the Three Sisters game more than any other of the season, regardless of record, and a tie was very fitting for the teams’ history.

“No matter how the teams come into this season, it’s always even playing field went it comes to this game,” O’Donnell said. “[We’re showing] teamwork and hustle and playing smart. Everyone has the heart by now, but now we have to think, and it becomes more of a mental game at this point.”

Gryphons coach Nikki Kucharski said she feels the players may have been waiting for overtime, since the fact that there would be no overtime period wasn’t made clear to them prior to the game.

“I think they were expecting that overtime. We didn’t make that clear,” she said. “That’s why the girls didn’t appear panicked.”

Heritage-Littleton had another close game earlier in the season when the team defeated Mullen in the final second. However, Datino said these close games, especially against Arapahoe, only lights a fire under the team.

And at the right time, too, with playoffs starting shortly. Last year, the Gryphons made the state championship game and finished as runner-up.

“We want to go back into the playoffs, knowing that we can beat teams like the Arapahoes and the Mullens; all the hard working teams we feel better about beating,” Datino said. “If we meet [Arapahoe] again, it will be even more exciting, and we’ll get to meet them in overtime if it comes to that.”

The Warriors’ Stacey Birlson had three goals and two assists in the rivalry game. Stephanie Curtis had three goals and one assist. Samantha McCurdy also had a hat trick. Jen Weidner was in the cage.

Arapahoe may look to focus on fundamentals and its mental game, going into the playoffs, O’Donnell said, since the team has jelled well over the past weeks. She said the Warriors’ opponents know their strength and know they play 100 percent every game.

In the playoffs, O’Donnell said she personally hopes to get another crack at Chaparral.

“Outside of H-L, I think we’d like to play Chaparral again,” she said. “I think that was a game we wanted to play differently, and we expected it to come out different.”

Peska said the key to Arapahoe’s success is how tough it is to defend them, given how every player works on every position in practice and getting her scorers to spread out on offense.

“If you only have two top scorers, then you are much easier to defend,” Peska said. “Even my defenders know how to shoot, cause you never know when they could get an 8-meter. … I can’t have my low defender on an 8-meter, and she’s never shot before.”

One reason the Three Sisters game is consistently close is the fact that the girls from both teams have grown up playing each other and know how to defend each other.

“Arapahoe and H-L players have grown up playing together, so having a tie with this team makes sense,” Kucharski said. “I think this crew that we have always keeps things close no matter what.”

The Gryphons coach feels the intensity from the rivals game should help them in the post-season. Every game, H-L discovers how good they are and the connections they can make in the midfield, Kucharski said.

“They learned a lot from this game, and also they got their desire and intensity even higher,” she said. “It’s definitely not going to go against us, going into the playoffs. This [tie] is probably going to help, if anything.”

“If we meet [Arapahoe] again, it will be even more exciting, and we’ll get to meet them in overtime if it comes to that.”

Liz Datino, Gryphons captain


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