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Morgan’s 4 goals lift ECHS girls past SEHS in lacrosse
Olivia Morgan
Olivia Morgan (with the ball) begins an Effingham County offensive play as South Effingham's Bailey Kendziorski (No. 10) defends Wednesday at Rebel Field. Morgan scored four times to lead the Rebels to a 7-6 overtime win in girls’ lacrosse on April 10. (Mark Lastinger for the Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald


SPRINGFIELD – Olivia Morgan says her Effingham County lacrosse teammates are mentally strong.

Rival South Effingham tested that strength and resolve Wednesday.

The Rebels fell behind by two goals twice but bounced back to beat the visiting Mustangs 7-6 on Morgan’s game-winner with 31.2 seconds left in overtime.

ECHS (9-3) has won five games in a row and nine of its last 10.

The two teams will meet again today (April 17)  in a match that will count in the Class 5A-6A Area 7 standings.

“(Lacrosse) can be mentally challenging but I always feel like our mental state is good,” Morgan said. “If we miss a pass, we’re thinking ‘what can we do to fix it?’ We’re always thinking ahead.”

Looking back, the Rebels’ renaissance began early in the season. They lost a highly regarded group of seniors to graduation after the 2023 season and the new group lost its first two games (19-5 and 12-5) of 2024.

But Morgan, who has a team-leading 38 goals, and her teammates made the right adjustments. ECHS defeated perennial power Richmond Hill 7-6 in double overtime on March 28 and carried the momentum into Wednesday’s non-region affair.

“For both sides, it was like ping pong, the girls running up and down full-speed sprinting the whole game,” Rebels coach Alison Lawson said. “I’ve never seen Olivia go all-out like she did the last three minutes of the game.”

Morgan finished with four goals – all in the second half and overtime. 

Michaela Gordy and Megan Coleman had ECHS’ first two goals in the first quarter.

South (6-4) took a 4-2 lead after a two-goal barrage by softball battery mates Jaden Burns and Bailey Kendziorski within 13 seconds in the third quarter.

The Mustangs also had a 5-3 lead, but Morgan erased the advantage by scoring twice in the final two minutes of the quarter.

“We came into this game knowing they beat Richmond Hill and that’s a big deal,” Mustangs coach Eden Wright said. “We were as prepared as we could be and they did everything they were supposed to do. We were just up against a team that was equally as good.”

Burns finished with three goals, Kendziorski added two and Anna Elliott had one. Elliott’s goal with a man advantage in the fourth quarter put the Mustangs back in front 6-5 with 7:40 left in regulation.

Mackenzie Brown
Effingham County's Mackenzie Brown celebrates after scoring a goal to tie the lacrosse match with 3:25 to go in regulation as South Effingham defender Memphis Rowland (No. 11) looks on. The Rebels won in overtime 7-6. (Mark Lastinger for the Effingham Herald.)
But ECHS goalie Faith Strickland locked down the visitors the rest of the way, registering five of her nine saves in the fourth quarter.

Mackenzie Brown tied the game 6-6 with 3:25 left.

And Strickland came up big in the final hectic seconds as South threatened.

The Rebels controlled the overtime and Morgan, who has been through some pressure situations playing the Mustangs in softball, whipped in the game-winner.

“We’re really strong right now. We lost all those seniors last year, but I feel those shoes are being filled,” Morgan said. “People are taking on their responsibilities and we’re playing like one.”