Big First Half Helps Blackhawk Win WPIAL Girls D-II Title

Friday, May 27, 2016 | 12:24 AM

Blackhawk built a substantial lead in the first half, and held off a second-half charge, defeating Mars 7-5 to claim the school’s first Division II Lacrosse Championship at Highmark Stadium. The top-seeded Cougars won the rubber match against the Fighting Planets, as the team’s split their two regular-season tilts.

On Thursday evening, Blackhawk wasted little time taking the lead, as Gianna Piocquidio entered the zone with speed and unleashed a shot past Mars goalkeeper Charla Tate less than three minutes into the match. Bria Braddock added to the Cougars’ advantage less than 10 minutes into the half, as she deposited a rebound into the net. Blackhawk also capitalized on a man advantage, as Emma Verrett was awarded a free shot and cashed in on her opportunity to make it 3-0. Nicole Cuddy extended the lead, as she bounced a shot past Tate, while Verrett added her second tally in the closing minute to stake Blackhawk to a commanding 5-0 lead. While the offense was clicking for the Cougars, Blackhawk netminder Miranda Vigder was outstanding in the opening 25 minutes, as she made five saves, including a few on point-blank chances.

After the intermission, however, the complexion of the match changed drastically, as Mars scored four straight goals. Kelly O’Connell sparked the surge, as she netted a tally while the Planets were shorthanded just more than three minutes into the stanza. Shannon Doyle followed up with consecutive goals, the second of which came moments after an impressive steal by the Planets senior midfielder, to make it 5-3. Consecutive violations against Mars put the Planets down by two players just about midway through the half, but Mars overcame the numbers disadvantage, as Paige Seles scored to make it a one-goal affair.

With the Cougars seemingly reeling for a moment, Verrett notched her third marker to put her team ahead by two goals again. Less than two minutes later, O’Connell scored her second to pull Mars to within one, 6-5, but the Cougars salted away the time with lengthy possessions, including one that ended in an insurance tally by Evi Malagise to seal the outcome with just 40 seconds left.

Courtesy of the victory, Blackhawk concludes its season with a mark of 17-1, while Mars’ campaign ends at 15-4

Score by Half:

Mars Fighting Planets : 0 – 5 = 5

Blackhawk Cougars : 5 – 2 = 7

Shots by Half:

Mars Fighting Planets : 5 – 9 = 14

Blackhawk Cougars : 9 – 7 = 16

Scoring Summary:

1st Half:

B: (2:55) Gianna Piocquidio

B: (10:04) Bria Braddock

B: (14:25) Emma Verrett (Man Up)

B: (20:37) Nicole Cuddy

B: (24:05) Emma Verrett

2nd Half

M: (3:40) Kelly O’Connell (Man Down)

M: (7:38) Shannon Doyle

M: (11:00) Shannon Doyle

M: (13:08) Paige Seles (Man Down)

B: (17:52) Emma Verrett

M: (19:49) Kelly O’Connell

B: (24:20) Evi Malagise

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