DEXTER — Success in girls lacrosse ultimately begins in the draw circle, which has been the case for South Jefferson this season and sparked its success in previous years.
It was the case again Friday in a midseason showdown for first place in the Frontier League against General Brown, with Mackenzie Alexander leading the way.
Alexander scored five goals and assisted on four others and also won her share of faceoffs as the Spartans cruised to a 17-6 victory over the Lions at Fisher Field.
“We’re starting to move a lot on offense and I think we looked really good today,” Alexander, a senior midfielder, said. “I think we had a lot of energy and it really showed on the field.”
By winning the possession game, including early on, South Jefferson (6-3 overall, 5-0 league) pounced on General Brown by scoring the game’s first 10 goals and extended the advantage to a 12-1 lead by halftime.
“It’s a big win, we’ve been working hard for it,” Spartans senior goalie Paige Crandall said. “We came out really strong today, it’s been a while since we came out strong like that.”
Alexander, who totaled five points alone in the first half, had a hand in the Spartans’ first four goals, including two tallies, which came within the first 5 1/2 minutes of the game.
“I love it, it’s a great position to be in, too, because I get to play in all aspects of the game,” Alexander said. “I play midfield, so I’m on offense and defense and I get to do the draw. I love taking those and getting us the ball.”
Also taking the majority of the draws for South Jefferson, Alexander won 14 of them, nine of which she converted into draw controls.
“A super focus point for us right now is in between the restraining lines,” South Jefferson coach Jen Williams said. “That was a goal of ours and it’s going to be a goal of ours to win between those lines and it will start with the draw — and I thought we did a great job of that today.”
In all, the Spartans, won 15 of the 23 faceoffs to continue their recent dominance over the Lions.
“We have a returning draw-circle crew, so they have experience, they have success and we’re building upon their confidence,” Williams said. “And they need to be more consistent — in the big games that we’ve played so far, they’ve been mediocre — and today I thought they were dominant and that helps us build a 10-goal lead.”
South Jefferson has won seven consecutive games against General Brown (6-3, 4-1) stretching back over the past three seasons.
“We got outplayed,” General Brown coach Katie St. Pierre said. “We made some mistakes that we haven’t made all season, which South Jeff capitalized on.”
Williams also credited the Spartans’ defense, which was backed by Crandall, who made eight saves.
“She’s another one, she’s had a tough go-around against some of those high-powered offensive teams,” Williams said of Crandall. “It’s not easy, and we have a young defense with only one returning starter, so it’s just those two. But they’re coming together and they’re learning. ... I think you can credit the defense for those saves as well.”
“Our defense played really well, the best I think we’ve played this season,” Crandall said.
South Jefferson, ranked No. 7 in the state in Class D, has finished unbeaten in the league the past two years, with last year’s showing ultimately propeling the team to its first Section 3 championship as well as a run to the state semifinals.
“From here on out, we just have to keep getting better and today was a big move forward for us,” Crandall said. “We came out strong and we just have to keep it up.”
Natalie Stough, Mia Buckingham and Megan Whitley each scored two goals, with Alexander scoring three times in the first half for South Jefferson.
Strough finished with three goals and three assists on the day and Savannah Fish totaled three goals and two assists.
Senior midfielder Alexis Farr scored three goals and assisted on three others for General Brown, which pulled to within 10 goals of South Jefferson on two occasions in the second half, but would get no closer.
Bailey Thomas, a sophomore who took most of the draws for the Lions, contributed two goals and an assist.
Junior goalie Ally Aumell finished with nine saves for General Brown, which is ranked No. 13 in the state in Class D.
“We have to regroup and move on, there is a lot to the season left,” St. Pierre added.