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ECHS girls’ lacrosse earns state playoff berth
Audrey Ubernosky
No. 2 Audrey Ubernosky of the Lady Rebels scores in the middle of the second half down 7-9 to the Lady Wildcats of Richmond Hill in a back-and-forth high scoring game on Tuesday, April 18. (Photo by Gilbert Miller.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald


RICHMOND HILL – Effingham County girls lacrosse coach Amber Roe doesn't want to hear past excuses.

Sure, the program is just in its third year if you subtract the 2020 season shortened by COVID but, as Roe says, "The excuse is gone for us being a new program and that we're not lacrosse players."

"At this point, every single one of you is a lacrosse player and I'm going to treat you like that," Roe tells her girls. "That's the big difference now. They aren't making excuses any more. Enough of them are confident."

Winning has helped and ECHS girls are the only lacrosse team in the county to make the Class 5A-6A state tournament. The Rebels (9-4) defeated Evans 12-6 on April 20 to ensure their third straight state playoff appearance.

ECHS played Area 8 champion McIntosh, a Final Four participant last season, in the first round of the Class 5A-6A championships on April 25.

The Rebels, Area 7's No. 4 seed, entered last week with a shot at second place, but lost in a key showdown with Richmond Hill, 16-11.

The highly anticipated matchup was postponed twice – the first time when only one official was available (usually two officiate a game) and the second time when the grounds at Wildcat Stadium were too soggy.

This time, on a pristine turf field behind McAllister Elementary School in Richmond Hill, the Rebels took an early 2-0 lead before the hosts recovered for a 6-4 halftime lead.

The Wildcats scored three times during the opening 1:16 of the second half to build a 9-4 advantage before ECHS responded with goals from Caleigh Eubanks, Olivia Morgan and Audrey Ubernosky to make it 9-7.

Richmond Hill spurted ahead 12-8 during the next five minutes. MacKenzie Brown answered with a goal to make it 12-9, but the Rebels couldn't get any closer.

Ubernosky, who will attend Shorter University in the fall and play lacrosse, had four goals to pace ECHS. Morgan added three and Eubanks two.

"This year, our ball movement has been a big plus," Roe said. "In the past we haven't been able to move the ball as quickly to find that open girl and that makes a difference.

"Now when we put an offense out there, there are seven girls who can score. I feel confident we can put the ball in the back of the net this year, that's for sure."

But ECHS couldn't capitalize on three 8-meter shots (a free position shot given to a fouled player), which are considered almost as automatic as free throws in basketball.

A year ago, the Rebels lost 24-6 and 15-6 to Richmond Hill. This year, they were competitive.

"We lost today, but I thought it was a great game and it showed how we're progressing," Roe said. "Richmond Hill has always been a good team."

The Wildcats finished second in the Area. Greenbrier, which slipped past the Rebels 10-9, was third. Lakeside Evans was first.