Clarence Girls Lacrosse Ends Drought Against Rival Lancaster
Clarence High School goalie Olivia Bakowski celebrated her 17th birthday by doing something she’d never done before in her life: beat Lancaster in a varsity lacrosse game.
Bakowski was stellar in making 19 saves and the Red Devils ended a long run of frustration with a 12-11 upset win over the rival Legends in Class A action on Tuesday evening.
“It’s the best birthday present I could get,” she said with a huge smile. “It was really crazy. I’ve been on this team since I was a freshman and we’ve never beaten them.”
In fact, just about everyone representing the home white on Tuesday was experiencing a career first. The Red Devils snapped a 12-game losing streak against the rival Legends. The win was the first for Clarence over Lancaster since a 9-7 win on May 15, 2012. And fourth-year Clarence head coach Jocelyn Canaday was not about to downplay her first career win over Lancaster.
“It’s a very big win for us,” she said “I’m not going to act like they’re not one of the best teams in Western New York. They made outstanding plays like we knew they would. But when we continue to stay relentless and give that second and third effort, we found ourselves successful.”
Clarence got big plays from up and down the roster all night long in the statement win, but make no mistake: Bakowski was the star of the show. The standout junior made 19 saves – and had both coaches raving after the game.
“Olivia was unbelievable,” Canaday said. “She definitely brings the energy, brings the fire for our team as our last line of defense.
“I think that’s the best I’ve ever seen her play – and I think she’s a top goalie in Western New York,” Lancaster coach Julie Buccieri said. “I thought she did a great job for them, especially early on. She had like five or six big stops and all of a sudden, we’re in a hole.”
The Red Devils were up three early in the third but the powerhouse Legends responded and grabbed the lead. Lancaster led 10-9 in the latter part of the fourth when Clarence seized control with three quick goals.
It was a big change of pace for the Red Devils, who less than 24 hours earlier suffered a disappointing loss at Williamsville East. Clarence entered the game with a sub-.500 record but the statement win gives reason to believe the best is yet to come.
“Obviously, being young we’re going to take some thumps,” Canaday said. “The best this team has played all season long. They played completely together as a team. We had multiple different girls step up at multiple points in the game.”
Lancaster fell to 2-2 on the young season. The Legends have been to the Section VI championship game in each of the last 13 seasons, winning 11 times. The large-school challenge gets tougher every year.
“Give them credit, they earned it,” Buccieri said of the Red Devils. “They played hard and they earned it. We’ll see them again. This happened to us last year against OP and that motivated us to get back to the finals. We’re looking to rebound but we know it’s not a given. We’re going to learn from this and move on.”