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Kaitlyn Montalbano (4 goals, 3 assists) leads St. John past Kellenberg

St. John the Baptist's Kaitlyn Montalbano scored the

St. John the Baptist's Kaitlyn Montalbano scored the winning goal on a free position shot over Kellenberg. (April 8, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Teammates have nicknamed Kaitlyn Montalbano and Morgan Jaycox "the circus,'' given all the trick plays and awe-inducing shots the St. John the Baptist duo pulls off regularly.

In fact, Montalbano broke out some spin moves and reverse pivots for a couple of goals Monday.

So with a minute left, the score tied and Montalbano given room to maneuver on a free position, the entire arsenal was available. At the whistle, the midfielder charged in from about 20 yards and . . . fired a bouncer.

Yep, perhaps the most basic of shots.

But the hard one-hopper found the left corner with 1:11 remaining as the Cougars edged Kellenberg, 9-8, in a CHSAA girls lacrosse game.

Tricks are for kicks, but crunch time called for fundamentals.

"In my head, I knew in that situation I'd go for the bounce shot,'' said Montalbano, whose four goals and three assists led St. John the Baptist (3-0).

She also assisted on the tying score -- with a common flip pass -- that Sarah Bennett collected and launched from about 8 yards with 3:12 to go.

"It was back and forth the whole second half and we were behind then,'' Bennett said, "so once I got the ball, I had to take advantage.''

Jaycox had two goals and three assists, Bennett scored twice and Virginia Gibbons made six saves as the Cougars overcame a poor start and rallied from down 4-1. Jess Veroline added a goal, Jill May had an assist and Faith Daley won three draw controls.

Montalbano and Jaycox dug into their bag of tricks to tie it at 6 with a show-stopping goal midway through the second half. Jaycox, from right of the crease, lobbed a lefty floater in front of the cage that Montalbano leaped high to snag and fired, in one motion, while airborne.

"We call that one 'The Rainbow,' " Jaycox joked. "We work well together and I know Kaitlyn can jump high, so I trust her to come down with it and finish."

Bennett put them ahead 7-6, but the Firebirds (3-1) answered. Taylor Casey tied it and Lindsey Ehrhardt's goal, on a sidearm sling, retook the lead at 9:29.

Ehrhardt and Kaitlyn Stackpole each had three goals, and Maggie Friel made 11 saves for Kellenberg. The teams split two regular-season meetings last season and both made the league semifinals.

"It's always a tough matchup because a lot of the [Kellenberg] girls play travel ball with us,'' Montalbano said. "We're really familiar with each other.''

So Montalbano switching it up and going basic? Pretty tricky.

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