Girls' lacrosse: Air Academy offense goes into full-attack mode

May 2, 2014 Updated: May 2, 2014 at 11:31 pm

Air Academy wanted to head into the playoffs confident in its offense.

Mission accomplished.

The Kadets hit numerous cutters in the slot to blow out Cheyenne Mountain 23-8 on Friday in the teams' regular-season finale, led by Natalie Berg's five goals and two assists and Maddie Jahelka's six goals.

"I thought we did a nice job of keeping moving," said Jahelka, who time and again slashed into the slot to receive a pass and found herself open before burying the goal. "That's really important on offense and in the zone because if you have people standing still, the defense is going to know what you're going to do and it's not going to be very helpful to get a goal."

Jahelka scored three times in a 3:24 span in the second half to help the Kadets (13-2 overall, 7-0 Southern League) squelch any Indians rally. Cheyenne Mountain had scored three of the last four goals before half to cut the gap to 12-6 and gain a bit of momentum.

But Air Academy showed how powerful its offense can be when it gets flying, scoring the first three goals of the second half and eight of the first nine. Berg dished out assists on the last two of that nine-goal stretch, finding twin sister Jessica Berg and Jahelka to give the Kadets a 20-7 lead.

"Recenlty in the season we've had a rough time working on movement in the offense and just keeping it and not having a stale offense," Natalie Berg said. "So we've really been working on the cutting and making sure we keep our eyes in the 8."

Sean Harmon loved what he saw from his squad, especially after wanting his team to shore up their offensive attack.

"Offensively we've been focusing on everybody moving their feet, everybody bringing help toward the ball," Harmon said. "I thought we did a whole lot better than what we've done.'

Cheyenne Mountain (10-4, 3-2) tried to stay close. The Indians grabbed a 1-0 lead on Tarah Gilbreth's first of her team-high goals, and tied the game at 3 on her second. But the Kadets scored the next eight goals, including a free-possession shot into an empty net after Indians goalie Skylar Powell was whistled for a violation.

"When we played our game we made things happen, and we were able to put the ball in the net," Indians coach Marc Luckett said. "When we let them dictate the pace of the game, it was the other way around."

With playoffs looming, the Kadets, semifinalists last year and state champs in 2012, wanted to head to the postseason with confidence.

"We've had a season that's been pretty good," Natalie Berg said. "We've had our ups and downs, but to end on this one, it was really nice to have an exciting game to end on. But not only an exciting game, but one that we've played our best at."

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