Prep Lacrosse: Indians get breakthrough win in cross-county rivalry
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
One of Newnan High’s strangleholds in its lacrosse rivalry with East Coweta took its first major hit on Friday the 13th.
The other didn’t show any signs of ending anytime soon.
Before the Lady Cougars continued to showcase their dominance in a 14-3 victory over a much improved East Coweta girls program, the Indians celebrated their 13-11 victory over Newnan’s boys with the same vigor at the nearly completed new Drake Stadium as their football team did last November in its former setup.
Still, East Coweta nearly let an early lead slip away while finishing three consecutive Area 1-AAAAA games in as many days with a 2-1 record.
While it was the second win this season by an Indians lineup over Newnan, Friday’s victory was the first time since the two schools began varsity lacrosse in 2008 that an East Coweta team defeated the Cougars in area play.
More importantly, the victory gives the Indians a much-needed tiebreaker for second place in the 1-AAAAA standings, where both schools are chasing unbeaten Harrison. East Coweta improved to 4-1 in area play and 9-4 overall, while the Cougars dropped to 3-2 in 1-AAAAA and 7-6.
“It’s good that it can be a friendly rivalry ... well, maybe not completely friendly,” joked East Coweta coach Ryan Post. “But so many of these guys know each other. To Newnan’s credit, they came back and shut us out (until late in the game).”
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Newnan tied the game for the fifth and final time with 7:35 with a goal by Bruce Powell just seconds into a man-up situation before East Coweta took the lead for good with three goals over the span of a minute.
Tyler Sandusky capped off a four-goal effort during the final surge and Conner McMeen put the game out of reach with a wraparound with 50 seconds left after the Cougars closed within a goal for the last time.
East Coweta showcased its depth with seven players scoring at least one goal. Bronson Smith, Lee Stead and Bryce Durden each finished with two goals apiece.
The Indians looked in control early, jumping out to a commanding 5-1 lead, dominating nearly every faceoff and loose ball in the opening period while led by senior long sticks Jacob Weston, Jakob Shiver and Dylan Byrum, the latter pair on defense in front of ECHS sophomore goalie Brian DeBole.
Newnan was led by hat tricks from both seniors Josh Skinner and Bradley Roberts, with Weston - a long-stick midfielder - shadowing Skinner for much of the night. The Cougars have lost starting midfielder Weston Yeager for the season with a torn ACL and the team later lost another midfielder in the third quarter on a hard collision.
DeBole and Newnan counterpart Adam Lanyi took turns thwarting opposing offenses, each facing over 30 shots on goal and making 10 stops to keep the game close.
The two standout goalies allowed just one shot behind them combined in the third quarter after teams went to halftime tied at 6-6 following a four-goal surge by the Cougars late in the second period. Matthew Schlumper’s lone tally gave East Coweta a slim 7-6 lead heading into the final period.
Early in the fourth quarter, Newnan then took its only lead of the game on Bradley Roberts’ bounce shot that caromed over DeBole’s stick as he fell to his knees with 10:46 left. Momentum swung in each direction to begin the fourth, the Cougars scoring twice to take the lead, followed by a pair of East Coweta goals, including a shorthanded tally by Bryce Durden.
But after struggling to find its offense through all of the third quarter, East Coweta, however, finally got its offense on track in the final period, scoring six times in the last 10 minutes.
The rivals swapped the lead three times in the fourth quarter before Bronson Smith’s long, hard shot got past Lanyi from the left side with 6:10 remaining. Sandusky then scored his final goal just under 30 seconds later off a feed from Bryce Durden and senior Colin Duncan pushed the first three-goal East Coweta lead since the first quarter with an unassisted tally with 5:13 to play.
Final efforts by Roberts and Skinner in the final 2:28 pulled the Cougars to within one, only to see McMeen sneak away unguarded from behind the net to catch Newnan’s defense out of position.
GIRLS – Newnan 14, East Coweta 3
Despite the goalkeeping of Lady Indian Kallie Brook, Newnan’s potent offense led by seniors Maggie McDaniel and McKynsey Douglas was too much to prevent a potential sweep by East Coweta.
The Lady Cougars (7-4-2, 4-0) remained unbeaten against the Lady Indians in their lacrosse rivalry while more importantly staying undefeated in Area 1-AAAAA heading into a home game with Harrison (9-3, 4-0) on April 25.
Led by Douglas’ four goals and three each from McDaniel and Sydney Garmany, Newnan kept pace in its drive for its first area lacrosse title and a crucial No. 1 seed for the state playoffs that would give the team at least two home playoff games and keep the Lady Cougars from a potential rematch with defending state champion Milton until the final round.
“That would be a huge help for us. We know Harrison’s a good team, so that game is important for us,” said Newnan coach Robert Skinner.
Douglas and McDaniel each posted hat tricks in the first half to help get Newnan out to a 9-2 lead at halftime. Miranda Wagstaff added a goal and two assists for the Lady Cougars, while Jaquline Witt, Rebecca Landrum and Sable Hawkins added goals in the second half.