Eagles top Beth Tfiloh for first IAAM C lacrosse championship since 2014; Bunker goes for seven goals
by P.J. Owen
Special to VSN
According to Indian Creek School lacrosse senior midfielder Megan Bunker, her team’s game plan this season can be summed up in the following way: attack an opponent, not respond to it.
Showing herself to be an astute follower of that aggressive scheme, Bunker erupted for seven goals and dished out a pair of assists during Sunday’s IAAM C final with Beth Tfiloh School. The Eagles won their first title since 2014 with a 10-7 decision at Mercy.
Bunker, who will play basketball and lacrosse at Seton Hill University (Pa.) next year, had a hand in nine of her team’s goals while freshman goalkeeper Elia Alewine stopped nearly 20 shots as the Crownsville school (15-1 overall) won the rubber match with the Warriors (14-2).
“Obviously, it feels amazing,” said Bunker, whose team avenged its lone blemished – a 12-11 overtime decision April 23. “I’ve been here for four years and it’s been the goal every single season and to be able to achieve it surrounded by a team that means everything to me that is the most hard working and poised group of girls ever, it feels even better.
Elie, honestly, that was the biggest game-changer for our team this year, having an amazing goalie like she is. She is just so good. She really holds our team together. She is like a rock.”
Bunker posted four goals in the first half to help overcome a slow start for the Eagles, while timely stops on free positions by Alewine and numerous draws won by Bunker helped the Eagles denied Beth Tfiloh its first IAAM championship.
Indian Creek won the first battle in the spring trilogy with its Baltimore County rival, 8-7 on April 8.
“Honestly, they are probably a little deeper in their starting lineup, but we have the best goalie in the league and the best player in the league,” Eagles coach Steve Willett said. “They’re phenomenal. A freshman goalie, she’s a gift. She’s a tough kid, a good kid. Neither one of them has an egotistical bone in their body.
“Megan Bunker, she’s been this way for four years. A very strong player. She plays a complete game. It’s not just scoring; it’s not just the draws. She plays great defense. She’s fantastic.”
Willett and his Eagles needed Bunker, Alewine, and their hard-charging teammates at their best as Beth Tfiloh jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10-plus minutes of the contest. Cameron Granek struck first for the Warriors, sending home a free-position attempt with 17 minutes, 51 seconds left in the first half. Allison Schwartz converted her own free position look shortly thereafter as her bouncing shot snuck into the goal off the left post.
That lead grew to three with 14:44 remaining on a goal by Alexa Grossman off an assist from Schwartz. Grossman took a feed from Schwartz while cutting to the goal and fired just past Alewine.
“That’s always the case against these guys,” Willett said. “They’re a good team; they’re a tough team. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played and it’s always a tight ballgame.”
Then it was Indian Creek’s turn to dictate play as the Eagles responded with six unanswered goals for a 6-3 halftime advantage. Bunker fueled that rally with four of those six goals as well as an assist to Kalle Huff to put the Eagles on the board with 14:07 left in the opening half. Mia Putzi tossed in two goals of her own in the rally.
Bunker scored two late goals on free positions with the Eagles holding a man advantage after Alison Krieger received a yellow card.
The Warriors started the second half off just as strong as the first with Marissa Ross, Paige Glick and Grossman reaching the back of the net to tie the contest at 6-6 with around 16 minutes left in the match. The game remained deadlocked heading into the final 10:46 following goals by Bunker, on a free position, and Grossman, off a drive and dish by Krieger.
Beth Tfiloh, however, was shut out the rest of the contest behind the play of Alewine, her defense, and the draw control by Bunker.
“I think the big part was the draw,” Warriors co-coach Alexa Eckle said. “I mean, we just could not win a draw . . . and Megan did a great job. I think that was really hard to keep momentum going, because even after we scored, then we had to fight to get the ball back again. Their goalie was outstanding today. She came up with some huge saves. Even though we adjusted our shots, she was just fantastic. I give a lot of credit to her.”
Bunker put the Eagles up for good with her sixth goal of the match with 10:32 left in the match. She secured the draw and then raced from just inside her team’s territory to the goal for a finish and an 8-7 advantage. She next found a cutting Collins for a 9-7 lead with 6:35 left before capping the game’s scoring with a double spin move and finish with 6:23 remaining in the match.
“We always say we want to dictate and not react to the other team,” said Bunker, whose spin moves left opponents as dazed and confused as the Warner Brothers cartoon character “Tasmanian Devil.” “That’s kind of what we went with the whole game. We’re going to play our game, regardless of what they do, and I think that really worked well for us.”