MOON TWP — The conviction never wavered.
Not after being held down offensively in the first half.
Not after going down by five goals with 20 minutes remaining.
Not even after surrendering the lead with just 59 seconds left to play in regulation.
Mars’ Mya Cote dumped in the game-winning goal 1:17 into overtime, earning the Planets the WPIAL Class 2A girls lacrosse crown in a thrilling 10-9 triumph over Blackhawk at Robert Morris University’s Joe Walton Stadium.
“My belief in this team never faded,” Mars coach Abby Latona said. “I knew we would do it. I knew we just had to put in the hard work, the grit and effort, and put it together as a team.”
For the first three-quarters of the game, crisp offensive execution eluded the Planets (20-1), who had netted a combined 34 goals in their first two WPIAL playoff matchups.
It appeared as if the lack of first-half chances would come back to haunt Mars when the Cougars’ Andrea Kinger deposited a free position shot from straight away as the clock dipped under a minute, breaking an eight-all tie.
Shortly after the ensuing draw, Cote made a crucial defensive play to get the ball back and a series of passes led to a tying goal by Kolson with 33 seconds left.
“This was a team win tonight and the icing on the cake was from her,” Latona said of Cote. “We talked about doing our job and executing well. Lacrosse is a huge game of who has the ball and who executes well. That’s how I knew we were going to win — if we got that ball and we executed well.”
It wasn’t the first time that the Planets faced adversity in the clash. They watched Blackhawks’ Mia Piocquidio, Ryleigh McKnight, and Ava Pagani stretch their lead to five scores with a push out of halftime. Not to mention, Mars could only muster two goals in the first half.
The Planets’ final push began in the contest’s final 12 minutes when they flipped a switch — and a 5-1 surge carried them back even at eight apiece with their opponents. Tess McGrath found the back of the net twice and Kennedy Kolson, Anna McGrath, and Cote once each during that run.
Charlotte Stamper scored a goal for Mars as well.
“We’ve been down before playing the 3A schools,” Cote said. “Being down and coming back, that’s helped us prepare for this moment. We all trust each other, so we just had to fight through it.”
The Cougars (14-2) never got a chance to possess the ball in the extra period as Cote ended matters.
“I’ve tried to trust myself making the goals in the past,” Cote said. “It was obviously a trickier game. I was playing more in my head than usual, but I had to have faith in myself.”