By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – Down three goals after 20 minutes, it would have been easy for South Effingham’s lacrosse players to envision upcoming doom during the next 30.
The Mustangs had never beaten rival Effingham County in seven previous meetings. They lost their first meeting to the Rebels this season by 13 goals.
“Our girls are fighters. They did their best to get back up,” SEHS girls coach Christine Knapp said.
Led by senior attacker Chloe Turner, the Mustangs indeed fought and posted a memorable turnaround while spoiling the Rebels’ Senior Night. Turner bullied her way through the ECHS interior defense for six goals and junior goalie Beka Edenfield turned aside 15 shots as the visiting Mustangs stunned the Rebels 11-8.
It was just South’s third win of the season, but Knapp sees rapid improvement from a group that has won three of its last five contests after starting 0-6.
“The girls are the ones who have brought themselves to where they’re at,” Knapp said. “They’re dedicated, they come in and want to learn and they practice what needs to be practiced.”
No doubt, they needed a little work after falling to Effingham County 18-5 on Feb. 14.
This time, the Mustangs scored three times in the final four minutes of the first half to wipe away a three-goal deficit and tie the game at 6.
SEHS dominated the second half to pull away.
“Ever since that first game, we’ve been working harder,” Turner said. “I didn’t want to have a negative approach (when ECHS took a three-goal lead). I just stayed positive because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Turner, a star softball player who was named the Region 2-AAAAAA Offensive Player of the Year in the fall, scored four goals in the first half and twice gave the Mustangs a two-goal advantage in the second half after the Rebels closed within 8-7 and 9-8.
Jaden Burns, Sarah Messex and Anna Elliott added goals after intermission.
Meanwhile, Edenfield was stingy in goal, allowing just one goal during the final 23:15.
“I think we didn’t show up like we should have today,“ said ECHS coach Amber Roe, whose squad dropped to 5-3. “(South Effingham) got to the ground balls quicker than we did. You can’t win a game if you don’t pick up the balls.”
Audrey Ubernosky had three goals and Morgan Coleman tallied twice for the Rebels. The hosts sorely missed midfielder Caleigh Eubanks, who was injured early in the second half and kept out the rest of the game for precautionary measures.
But South’s resiliency was the difference.
“It’s crazy. Obviously, we came into this game with a positive attitude,” Turner said. “We didn’t have our heads low. We wanted to beat Effingham because we never beat them before.”