Bishop England falls short in girls lacrosse state finals, 13-10

Teammates console Bishop England's Dorothy Navarro (24). The Wando Warriors beat the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets to claim the South Carolina High School League Lacrosse Championship at Chapin High School Saturday April 25, 2015. Gwinn Davis / Special to the Post and Courier

J.L. Mann won its third consecutive girls AAAA state lacrosse championship, defeating Lower State champion Bishop England, 13-10, at Chapin High School on Saturday afternoon.

Bishop England finishes its season at 17-3, losing in the finals for the second time in three seasons.

J.L. Mann improved to 17-3. The Patriots have not lost a match to an in-state team since the 2012 state finals.

The Bishops fell behind early, rallied to tie the match late in the first half, but could not hold off a fast, balanced offensive attack from the defending champions. The Bishops never led in the championship match.

Freshman Emma Pizzo scored three goals and tallied two assists. Senior Isabel Burnett and senior Jordan Mitchell each scored three goals as well for the Bishops. Taylor Kennington also scored for Bishop England, which came into the finals as the top-ranked team in the state.

“It’s certainly disappointing to get here and come up short, but I’m very proud of this team for what they have accomplished,” said Bishop England coach Jeff Weiner. “We didn’t finish today. I still feel that if we had played our best match, we would be state champions. But credit J.L. Mann, they got it done today.”

J.L. Mann was the aggressor early on, scoring four goals in the first 10 minutes of the match. Luci Ellison scored the first of her two first-half goals only 25 seconds into the match, and Ava Alvarez made it 2-0 with 21:44 left in the opening half.

Taylor Williams made it 3-0 with 17:50 left, and Blakely Wilson scored a minute later for the 4-0 advantage.

Bishop England controlled most of the final 16 minutes, scoring four goals to tie the match. Pizzo scored twice in 2:22, and Taylor Kennington added a goal with 5:01 remaining to cut the lead to 4-3.

Mitchell tied the match at four with a goal with 2:53 remaining, but the Patriots’ Ashli Woodard needed only 11 seconds to take a 5-4 lead. Wilson scored again for Mann 42 seconds later for a 6-4 lead, but Burnett scored with 1:12 left in the half to make it 6-5.

J.L. Mann picked up a huge insurance goal with 54 seconds left on Ellison’s second score of the half, giving the two-time defending state champions a 7-5 lead at the break.

“I’m really proud of the way we battled and came back,” said Weiner. “For me, this match came down to free positions. We had a lot of opportunities and I think we might have converted two of 10. All comes down to finishing. We normally are better at finishing those free positions.”

J.L. Mann maintained momentum in the second half, scoring twice in the first seven minutes. Williams scored her second goal with 22:39 remaining, but Burnett’s second score with 18:20 left cut the lead to 8-6.

Alvarez, however, made it 9-6 with a goal at the 18:52 mark but the Bishops would not go quietly. Pizzo assisted on a Mitchell’s second goal with 11:36 remaining to cut the lead to 9-7.

Less than a minute later, Pizzo delivered a perfect pass to Burnett, who scored her third goal of the game to cut the lead to 9-8 with 10:27 remaining.

J.L. Mann’s championship experience appeared to take over late in the contest. Alvarez scored her third goal with 6:57 remaining and Woodard added a score 25 seconds later for an 11-8 lead.

Woodard put the icing on the cake for J.L. Mann with 3:12 remaining, scoring her third goal to push the lead to 12-8. Caty Brown made it 13-8 with 2:23 left before Mitchell and Pizzo added late goals for the final margin.