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Great day, and night, for Menlo girls' lacrosse team

Knights rally late to force overtime and then hold on for 16-14 victory

Click on pictures to enlarge and see captions.

by Keith Peters

Palo Alto Online Sports

Maggie Brown has had some great experiences with her Menlo School girls' lacrosse team. Her latest, interestingly enough, is a result of a rare bad experience.

"I remember my freshman year (2007) we lost to Menlo-Atherton twice in league play and in the league finals, and how crushing that was," Brown recalled. "I wasn't going to go out that way."

The last thing Brown wanted to do was lose the final match of her high school career. That would have ruined everything on Saturday.

"We have prom tonight," Brown said. "We had to win so we could have fun at prom."

Brown and her teammates made sure they indeed would have some fun by rallying to beat upset-minded Burlingame, 16-14, in overtime in the West Bay Athletic League championship match at Palo Alto High. The top-seeded Knights finished their season at 17-4 while winning their sixth league playoff title in seven years. Burlingame finished 13-6.

The only year Menlo fired blanks was in 2007, when Menlo-Atherton proved unbearable and ruined the Knights' string of titles. Those three losses that year are the only ones suffered by Menlo in coach Jen Lee's tenure. The Knights are 90-6 in league play and playoffs in the past seven years (2004-2010) and 36-0 in league since the last loss to M-A.

Brown and her teammates weren't about to have another loss on that sparkling record.

"We've had a lot of overtimes this year," said Brown, a senior who is the team's all-time leading scorer. "We lost to SI in overtime last week. We didn't want that to happen again."

Third-seeded Burlingame, which upended No. 2 Sacred Heart Prep in the semifinals, had ideas of an even bigger another upset Saturday and took a 10-8 lead with 17:19 left to play. The teams battled back and forth until the Panthers scored with 1:26 left to play to grab a 13-12 lead.

While the Georgetown-bound Brown drew the attention of at least two Burlingame defenders, Menlo freshman standout Michaela Michael found an opening and scored the tying goal with 47 seconds left. Michael had an opportunity to win it with two seconds remaining, but missed.

Once in overtime, it was all Menlo. As Lee told her players afterward: "I think you owned it in overtime."

Brown and fellow senior Mila Sheeline both scored in the first of two three-minute overtimes for a 15-13 lead with 49 seconds left. Burlingame's Victoria Pratt, however, got free for a goal with 0:03 left and it was 15-14 heading into the second OT.

Menlo won the draw and got the ball to sophomore Sophie Sheeline, who raced down the field and scored in just 17 seconds for a 16-14 lead. After that, Menlo controlled the faceoffs and killed the clock for the victory.

Menlo probably could have escaped overtime had Brown just taken over like she's capable of. She came into the finale with 107 goals this season, tied for the national lead according to MaxPreps.com. She finished with five goals while Mila Sheeline had four and Sophie Sheeline three.

"I'll score if I need to," Brown said. "But, everyone on our team is capable of scoring. Everyone else stepped it up today. We play as a team. I'm not the team."

Lee said she was confident in her players, even after Burlingame took the lead with under 1:30 to play in regulation.

"I had the greatest confidence that these kids would prevail," she said. "They play with heart and hustle and a lot of class."

Lee started all her seniors on Saturday – Brown, Sheeline, Ally Pavela, Annie Madding, Deborah Wohl, Natalie Williford, Emma Southgate and Katie Hopkins.

"I can't wait for next year's seniors," Lee told her team afterward. "But, I hate to say goodbye to these eight. Thanks for getting it done."

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