It’s hard to say which of Gracie Emerson’s eight goals on Monday night was her best. The prettiest to watch, though, came out of a scrum in front of the opposing net.
Only 16 minutes and some change into the game, Emerson already had five goals and EL led, 7-0. Nonetheless, she entered the melee for a loose ball in front of the Holt net without hesitation. Through the thicket of swinging and jabbing sticks and quickly moving feet, Emerson emerged with the ball cradled low in the head of her stick.
With the net off to her right and moving away from the goalmouth, Emerson didn’t raise the ball above her knee. Instead, she flicked a backhand shot past the goalie’s shins for a nifty score — her sixth of the game, at that point.
Emerson dominated as East Lansing romped to a 14-2 win against Holt in the first round of the CAAC Blue girl’s lacrosse tournament on Monday night at Lynn C. Adams Stadium. In a game that was never close — the Trojans opened on a 9-0 run — Emerson scored more than half of EL’s goals along with providing assists on a majority of the other six scores, too. With the win, East Lansing moves on to play against Grand Ledge on Wednesday evening in round two, at Grand Ledge High School.
From the absolute start of the game, the Trojans seized complete control due to the dominant draw-taking performances of Emerson and Anna Phillips. In lacrosse, if one team consistently wins draws, it can effectively play exclusively offense. That’s what the Trojans did for most of the first half on Monday.
“Whether it’s a self draw or directing them somewhere on the circle to get the pass or the draw, they both definitely have that chemistry,” Trojans Head Coach Reina Torrez-Miner said postgame about Emerson and Phillips.
Holt didn’t even take possession of the ball until several minutes had passed, and even then the Rams immediately turned it over. By the time the Rams even crossed midfield and had a sustained offensive possession, EL was up, 6-0. And Holt failed to score on that possession, too.
All the while, the Trojans’ attack showed its edge. In the first 52 seconds, Emerson notched the opening goal and assisted on the second. By the time 6:22 had elapsed, she was sitting on a hat trick. By halftime, Emerson led everyone with seven goals and two assists.
East Lansing led, 10-1, at the break. The scoring onslaught fell off in the second half, in part because EL didn’t need to keep up such an aggressive pace — once the Trojans had a 10-goal margin, the game went to a running clock. Also, Torrez-Miner started subbing more and Emerson kept needing to check out of the game and adjust or redo the ace bandage wrapping on her right thigh. It didn’t matter, though.
Emerson and Phillips continued controlling the majority of draws, and when EL did have to defend at length, it did so extremely effectively, turning the Rams over and seldom offering up a good scoring opportunity.
And when the Rams did get a look on net, Trojans goalie Bronwynn Kewin stepped up with a bevy of well-timed saves. Torrez-Miner spoke postgame about how she brought in a goalie-specific assistant — Connor Konas, a former collegiate goalie — this year to help Kewin.
“He’s been kind of her one-on-one coach to make sure that she’s getting that support she needs,” Torrez-Miner said.
With that training, Kewin looked strong in net, deftly matching sticks with shooters and positioning herself well to stop shots and limit rebounds. Once the ball ended up in Kewin’s stick, she was a confident and decisive passer.
Often, her target was Emerson, who handled the rest from midfield on. In the first half, the midfielder took a pass from Kewin and drove down the length of the field, looking ready to shoot.
As she closed in on the goal, defenders flocked, leaving Lily Ramsby open on the doorstep. Emerson confidently passed it off and Ramsby comfortably finished off the score.
“With Gracie,” Torrez-Miner said, “it’s really just working on getting her to — not to not shoot — but also working on the feeding and just moving the ball. And so that’s a huge step this season, this year, for her.”
And on Monday night it was all working for Emerson, and East Lansing.