Thursday May 2, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Taylor Izzo is one of a handful of offensive contributors who have helped give Frontier balanced scoring. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
A team that allows only 4.6 goals per game in the sport of lacrosse is one that’s going to be successful. Frontier has proved just that, locking down its opponents to get out to a 7-1 start to the season.
Whether Frontier can capitalize on enough of its opportunities offensively, though, could be what makes the difference in the battle for a sectional title. Another big second-half effort helped Frontier defeat West Seneca East 8-5 on Saturday (April 27) as two of the better teams in Western New York met in a non-league contest.
“The good thing about this group is that they play with huge hearts,” Frontier head coach Tim Myslinski said. “They never give up nor do they let down. So, it’s a good group; I enjoy this group.
“The defense has been fantastic,” he added. “If we’re only giving up that little, we should win every game. Offensively, we need to finish. We’ve been averaging 25 to 26 shots a game, but we’re just not finishing enough.”
The Falcons have finished most games stronger than they have started. Frontier outscored East 3-1 in the second half and held both Lake Shore and Lancaster to only one goal in tight games this season. Orchard Park was held without a second half goal when the teams met.
“We’ve been a second half team,” Myslinski said. “We’re just starting out a little slow. Everybody is going to try to run something different on our defense. The good thing is our halftime and timeout adjustments have been good. They’ve done what we asked of them.”
Against East, Frontier’s leading scorer Hannah Christiansen netted four goals, to go along with two ground balls and a takeaway from her midfield position. She’s been pivotal for a more well-rounded offense that’s tried to pick up the slack after losing the team’s top three scorers from last year.
“We’re a younger team this year with a lot of girls coming up from the junior varsity, but we’ve really come out very strong this season,” said Christiansen, who’s got 22 goals. “We’re all about the second half. We say let’s get fired up before the game, but still come out a little shaky. But then in the second half, we explode.”
Christiansen makes up what Myslinski believes is his strongest midfield unit yet, which also includes the likes of junior captain Hannah Lease (16 goals) and sophomore Jackie Dufresne. Junior Taylor Izzo, who’s also a midfielder, has 15 goals.
Senior Christina Heppner has been a pleasant surprise on the attack with her contributions in scoring as well as controlling the ball, Myslinski said. Not to be outdone, Emily Pasternak’s contributions in net have served as the backbone for the team and been another reason for Frontier’s success.
“Every single offensive player is scoring goals and contributing,” Myslinski said. “We have a bunch of players with two and three where as in past years it would be one player with seven.”
Grace Christiansen, Hannah’s sister and a fellow captain, has also been key in holding together the defense. She leads the team with 27 ground balls and like her sister, has the type of hard-working and sound game that is a pleasure to watch, according to Myslinski.
“I really work for my other teammates, our captains and my twin sister,” Hannah Christiansen said. “Grace and I are so competitive with everything, even homework, and on the field, too. I want them to be able to depend on me. And have it vice versa where I can depend on them. I know I can.”
Defending Class A champion Lancaster is the only team Frontier has not found a way against this season. The Falcons’ only loss in 2013 was to Lancaster 7-6 on April 25.
“We played them real hard and the game went down to the wire,” Myslinski noted. “What it came down to is that we’ve got to finish our shots. It’s all about maximizing your runs and minimizing their runs.”
Hannah Christiansen said it would be an opportune time to get started earlier on in a game when the two meet again. She won’t have much time to wait as Frontier hosts Lancaster on Tuesday, May 7 just two weeks after they originally met.
“I think we should think of every team we play as if we’re going into a game against Lancaster,” she said. “We want to come out even stronger next time against Lancaster.”
Elsewhere, division leaders Hamburg
and Lake Shore
take on their top challengers in critical games later this week. ECIC’s top Class B team, 8-1 Hamburg, will play at West Seneca East on Thursday, May 2. East lost only 12-9 when the team’s met April 11. Lake Shore, ECIC’s top Class C team, will play at Amherst on Friday, May 3. The Eagles beat Amherst 9-8 in sudden death overtime after two scoreless extra sessions in the first meeting between the two.