Cleveland Heights girls’ lacrosse coach Terry Saylor had just one final task to perform toward the end of his team’s opening-round playoff victory against Westerville South.
Saylor had to make sure all of his players got into the game, and with only seconds remaining, Rachel Evans bolted onto the field and a minor crisis was averted.
That was as far as Cleveland Heights’ troubles went in trouncing Westerville South, 17-4, on Wednesday night at Hawken School as the Tigers gently flexed the firepower that has made them No. 1 in Ohio, according to laxpower.com.
With varying amounts of playing time, the Cleveland Heights stars found much to their liking. Meg Lentz scored five goals and had an assist, Kelly Jones had four goals and two assists, while Tali Lugasy and Olivia Lash each had two goals.
Wide-open scoring chances often became opportunities for more passes and greater possession of the ball. The Tigers (9-6) weren’t teasing the Wildcats (5-12) so much as sharpening their focus for the tougher matchups that lie ahead.
“We missed the last two games. One was rained out (Medina), the other one was canceled (Sycamore). Those were against two top-10 teams in the state. So we missed not having those games, especially with Medina. They’re ranked No. 2; we’re ranked No. 1," Saylor said.
“The good thing is we do play them in district finals if we both advance on. We may not have shown each other a lot in that game anyway.”
The Tigers also had the odd position of folding Senior Night into the playoff game because their final home game against Sycamore on Saturday was canceled. Wednesday night’s game was originally scheduled at Cleveland Heights, but bad weather moved it to Hawken.
Still, eight seniors had the honor of walking with their parents and taking applause from those who attended.
As for the game itself, the district quarterfinal had an unmistakable exhibition-like quality as the Tigers seemingly harnessed their power so as to not embarrass the red-clad Wildcats after such a long journey from the outskirts of Columbus.
Lentz pranced right through the Wildcats for the game’s first goal with only 11 seconds gone and immediately followed that up with another score at 22:47.
Lentz kicked off the Tigers, scoring the game’s first eight goals until midfielder Brittany Padgett got the Wildcats on the board at 10:42. Despite their efforts, the Wildcats still trailed, 9-2, at halftime.
Any hope that the halftime Senior Night festivities might distract the Tigers was put to rest quickly as Lentz, Lash and Lugasy scored in succession to give the Tigers a 12-2 lead and effectively end the game.
The Tigers will host their next playoff game at home on Monday evening. Their opponent has not yet been determined.