Stow girls lacrosse celebrates return to play with rout of Boardman

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Stow-Munroe Falls freshman Kenzie Gash scored five goals in the Bulldogs' 16-2 win over Boardman Friday at Bulldog Staidum.

STOW — Like every lacrosse team in 2020, coach Mike Sheehan and Stow-Munroe Falls girls endured a spring without sticks and goals.

So when the Bulldogs hosted Boardman Friday at Bulldog Stadium, the excitement was palpable just to get back on the field.

Stow-Munroe Falls Bulldogs

It might sound corny to say Stow unleashed a year's worth of pent-up goals on the Spartans — but Boardman likely felt that's what happened.

Stow's offense overwhelmed Boardman, as the Bulldogs cruised to a 16-2 win in the season opener for both teams.

Sheehan was pleased with his squad, though he noted it wasn't a perfect night for the Bulldogs.

"They did what they had to do to win tonight," Sheehan said. "We wanted to play our game and we did tonight. We've got a lot of young girls playing, but they've put the time in in the off-season.

"I give Boardman credit for playing as hard as they did," he added. "I know they've been struggling."

Stow came into the season with only three seniors, though Dom Phillips-Mooney (Marietta College) and Jessi Kyer (Mount Vernon Nazarene University) have each committed to play lacrosse at the collegiate level.

Any inexperience issues the Bulldogs had evaporated quickly.

After winning the opening draw, it took Stow less than a minute to find the net, as junior Cailah Nguyen scored with 24:01 left in the first half.

Stow dominated the center circle, finishing with an 18-3 edge in draws. Sheehan noted Kyer and freshman Amber Shinsky handled most of the action at center.

The Bulldogs had a huge edge in possession and shots, as Stow finished with a 23-2 edge in shots on goal, shutting out the Spartans after the half.

In her high school debut, Stow sophomore goaltender Grace Stidham didn't have much to do, as she did not record a save.

By contrast, Boardman goaltender Gia Ditallo had to feel she was in a shooting gallery, as the Bulldogs unleashed a torrent of shots from just outside the crease. Ditallo finished with seven saves.

Stow's offense remained hot early, as junior Audrey Allendorf scored at the 23:03 mark, followed by junior Brook Moon turning a shot off an assist from Nguyen with 22:02 left.

Moon would score four goals for Stow, but she was eclipsed by a Bulldog in her first high school game.

Freshman Kenzie Gash would score with 18:56 left in the first half, forcing Boardman to call a time-out. It was the start of a brilliant debut, as Gash led the Bulldogs with five goals.

"I saw a bunch of opportunities to run on net and my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball," Gash said.  "It was a lot of fun."

"Kenzie is doing a good job," Sheehan said. "She really is showing she wants to play."

After the time-out, Boardman took advantage of its first draw win, as Emma Mills scored to make it 4-1 with 17:50 left.

The Spartans also scored their second goal after a face-off win, as Malysea Flood scored on a direct shot with 12:21 left in the first.

"The defense was sleeping there," Sheehan said. "It's OK. It's something to work on."

However, Gash scored a goal in between the two Spartan goals at 13:22, then scored two more after off assists from Allendorf (6:52) and Sienna Lazar (5:46).

Allendorf got her second goal with 3:13 left in the half. Then Shinsky got in on the fun, converting a direct shot with 2:34.

Gash closed the first half with a goal with 14 seconds left, sending Stow to the benches with a 10-2 lead.

Needing two goals to invoke the OHSAA's running clock rule, Stow kept its foot on the gas in the second half.

A quick pair of goals from Moon (22:57) and Kyer (22:28) allowed Stow to invoke the running clock, while Moon added two more at the 17:02 and 8:09 mark.

Phillips-Mooney joined the fun by scoring with 5:40 left. Allendorf then completed the rout by completing her hat trick with 3:35 left.

Sheehan notes the Bulldogs will face a huge step up in class when they travel to rival Hudson Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

"It's going to be a big test for us," Sheehan said. "They're always the team we measure ourselves against."