At the end, it still wasn’t enough for the Lady Raiders, who lost 16-13 on Saturday to give the Lady Eagles their ninth state championship in 10 years.
Walton (13-7-1) came back from a 9-4 deficit to get within one at halftime, but Milton (18-3) answered back in the second half with a run of its own to take control of the game and clinch its fifth title in a row.
“I’m just really proud of the kids for not giving up and just doing their absolute best,” Walton coach Mandy Ryan said.
Erin McBride scored five goals, while Carly White added three, Riley Ewing had two and Hunter Corvin, Kylie Holthaus and Sophia Watkins each contributed one for the Lady Raiders.
Walton got early goals from Corvin, White and McBride as it traded the lead with Milton a couple times to even the score at 3-all with about 18 minutes remaining in the first half.
Milton turned up the defensive pressure and forced some Lady Raider errors to fuel a 6-1 run and take a 9-4 lead with 7:07 left.
Walton, however, settled down and began to whittle away at Milton’s advantage as McBride scored back-to-back goals with 6:50 and 5:53 left. Ewing then scored at the 5:05 mark, and White added a goal with 3:03 remaining to reduce the Lady Eagles’ lead to 9-8 at halftime.
“It was a part of trying to minimize our individual errors,” Ryan said.
White opened the scoring in the second half with a goal to tie the game at 9-all at the 21:18 mark.
After Emily Velez’s goal with 19:52 remaining put Milton back in front 10-9, McBride responded with a score of her own to even it at 10-all with 16:02 left.
Once again, though, mistakes proved to be costly for Walton, as Milton took advantage of more miscues to run off five consecutive goals and take a 15-10 lead with 7:37 left.
Goals by Watkins and Ewing helped Walton narrow its deficit to 15-12 with 4:19 left, but that’s as close as the Lady Raiders would get the rest of the way.
“It’s a matter of making too many errors and not being able to rebound from them,” Ryan said. “We have kids who have never been in that situation before and they just made mistakes they usually don’t make.”
Milton coach Tim Godby was impressed by Walton’s effort. The teams had met once before during Area 2AAAAAA play, with the Lady Raiders losing by 10 goals.
“We just had to continue to make adjustments — offensively and defensively — to try to get us an advantage,” Godby said.
“But give Walton a lot of credit. They played a great game. They executed their game plan well. They came out and played hard. We just did enough things right to win.”