The Estero girls lacrosse team had exactly one year to stew over watching a district title slip through its fingers in the last 45 seconds of a loss to Canterbury. The Wildcats spent an entire offseason preparing for one moment.
Nothing was left to the final minute this time. Sophie Forker and Arianna Endelmann tallied three goals apiece as Estero (16-5) jumped out to a four-goal lead it never relinquished as it upset previously undefeated Canterbury (17-1) 13-6 Friday in the District 18 title game at Jeff Sommer Field.
“I just had faith that my girls had as much talent as Canterbury,” Wildcats coach Erika Anderson said. “And Canterbury’s a very talented team. We just wanted it more tonight.”
Estero will face Bradenton St. Stephen’s in a first-round play-in game April 15.
The 17-5 and 10-9 losses to Canterbury during the regular season only fueled the fire in Estero as it upset Bishop Verot on Tuesday to earn a rematch.
“We really wanted it for our teammates who had to feel the pain of losing like that last year,” junior goalkeeper Sarah Smith said. “We wanted it really bad.”
Haley Swinehart, Forker and Brittany Monteiro struck quickly with goals in the first eight minutes of play. After Canterbury’s Krista Thompson provided an answer with 14:43 left in the first half, Endelmann and Riley Koenig scored within a minute of each other to make it 5-1.
“We were just really hustling and working together,” Forker said.
Smith, however, served as the difference in net, saving 23 shots and never letting the Cougars get closer than five goals in the second half.
“It was really the defense. I’d tell them to lean one way or another with our zone so we’d have the entire net covered,” Smith said.
Thompson and Peyton Hornung, Canterbury’s leading scorers who combined for over 160 goals this season, were held to just three. Katy Matter had three goals for the Cougars.
Canterbury looked to be making a run in the second half when Matter and Thompson found the back of the net to make it 11-6, but Koenig found Forker on a pretty pass from behind the net and Endelmann scored on a drive to the net to close the door on the Cougars.
“I told them to remember how this feels,” Canterbury coach Wylie Crisanti said. “The Estero girls used last year’s game as motivation to do what they did tonight. We need to do that next season.”