By BRANDEN MELLO
BURRILLVILLE — Katie Potter doesn’t score the most goals or make flashy plays for the undefeated Burrillville girls lacrosse team. And when the Broncos are moving the ball quickly and efficiently, you might not even notice the sophomore middie’s important contributions.
Potter, however, is a linchpin to the Broncos’ success and that was evident in Thursday afternoon’s Division III semifinal against neighboring Ponaganset.
The Broncos were never in trouble in the contest, but that’s because whenever they dropped a pass or had to win a loose ball, Potter was on hand to scoop it up and restart the offense. And when the Broncos did turn it over, it was Potter who made the lung-burning dash back toward goalie Regan Polacek’s net to stop a transition opportunity.
“I go 110 percent – that is my goal every single time,” Potter said. “I work my butt off to win every single ball I’ve ever seen and on ground balls I just go with one hand because I’m not the tallest or longest person compared to the others. I cradle and balance it in the stick and just go.”
“She works so hard and maybe parents on the sideline or other people don’t notice what she does, but everyone on this team knows how valuable Katie is,” Burrillville coach Jen Polacek said. “She wins every ground ball and does all the little things to help this team be successful.”
Potter netted a goal on Thursday – one of Burrillville’s five unanswered efforts to start the game – but the star of the afternoon was talented sophomore Madeline LaSata. The attack scored five goals and dished out a pair of assists, while freshman Jenna Forrest scored a hat trick for the second straight playoff game in a 17-6 victory over the Chieftains at Gledhill Field.
“We came together really well and we really wanted to make it to the finals,” LaSata said. “One of our strengths is moving really fast down the field, so when our defense scoops up the ball, we moved quickly and we had strong passes to get the ball to the net. This is so nice because we’ve been playing together since second grade, so to be able to do this with all of our friends is really nice.”
“Getting to the final is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Potter said. “I can’t believe we’ve gotten this far. I know a lot of the girls are young and we don’t have any seniors, but it’s amazing to be back after last season was canceled.”
The Broncos have four talented juniors on the varsity roster, including Polacek and junior goalie scorer Jolie Forrest, but the core of the team that has run through Division III is made up of kids who don’t even have their drivers permit right now. The young Broncos head to Tucker Field on Sunday afternoon at 1 o’clock to take on either No. 2 Toll Gate or No. 3 Providence Country Day.
No. 5 Ponaganset, which upended North Smithfield in the quarterfinals, received a hat trick from senior Sophia Cellucci, while senior Kayleigh Watts scored her team’s first goal 6:57 into the contest to make the score 5-1. The Chieftains struggled to contain Samantha Murphy in the face-off circle, which allowed the Broncos to camp in the Chieftains’ half of the field.
It took LaSata and the Broncos 3:43 to finally open the scoring, but once they did, they didn’t stop until the final whistle. Murphy and Jenna Forrest followed with goals, before LaSata connected with Potter for a goal while the Broncos were down a player. LaSata added her second before the Chieftains finally scored thanks to Watts.
“My role is to kind of be behind the net and make sure that we can get some assists from there,” LaSata said. “That’s where I’m assigned to play and it works because once we’re up we like to spread the field and make sure everyone gets involved in the offense. It was nice to be able to cut in and score when the defenders weren’t paying attention.”
Freshman attack Amelia Ferraro scored a pair of goals before LaSata took a pass from Jenna Forrest to put the Broncos up 9-2 at halftime. Cellucci scored twice in the opening four minutes of the second half, but Burrillville’s offensive balance was simply too move for the Chieftains to overcome.
The Broncos received second-half goals from the Forrest sisters, LaSata, Murphy and Abby Lambert to secure the program’s first appearance in a division final since it started in 2012 as a co-op with North Smithfield.
“This is great for the program, but I know we can play even better than we did in this game,” Polacek said. “The kids are working hard and they’re excited to play again Sunday.”