Morgan Jaycox was sick.
Well, she literally was ill and missed three lacrosse games last week, two of which she couldn't attend. But almost as bad was the senior's disgust at the updates she received from friends during St. John the Baptist games -- mostly with bad news.
"I'm getting all these texts saying, 'We're losing,' and I'm sitting there getting upset,'' Jaycox said. "It's really frustrating when your team is struggling and you can't help.''
That changed Wednesday. Jaycox returned and helped remedy her ailing team, scoring three goals in the Cougars' 14-7 win over CHSAA rival Kellenberg.
Kaitlyn Montalbano had three goals and four assists to lead St. John the Baptist (2-4), which snapped a three-game losing streak and dealt Kellenberg its first loss. Sarah Bennett added three goals, and Julianna DeSimone had two goals and three assists.
"We're so close and have such good chemistry, I felt a little lost without Morgan out there,'' Montalbano said. She and Jaycox formed Long Island's top scoring tandem last season. "You can see the difference she makes out there.''
The duo, nicknamed "The Circus,'' has become known for flashy passes and trick shots. There weren't many plays for the highlight reel this time -- in part because Jaycox's minutes were limited -- but St. John the Baptist, more importantly, was efficient.
Montalbano won nine draws, initiated the transition offense and forced five turnovers in the midfield.
"I think this was a turning point for us,'' said Virginia Gibbons, who made 11 saves. The team has high expectations after reaching the CHSAA championship game last season. "We were making a lot of mental errors and today we got back to the basics.''
The Cougars took control early and went up 4-0 on DeSimone's goal. Kellenberg chipped away and Lindsey Ehrhardt (three goals) pulled them within 4-3 midway through the first half, but Bennett answered with a sidearm sling from 6 yards on a fast break. Maggie Friel made seven saves for the Firebirds (5-1).
Jaycox's first goal, off a cross from DeSimone, put SJB up 7-4 with 14 seconds to go in the first half, and the Cougars' defensive pressure increased from there.
"I was anxious to get back, and this game, I was kind of finding my rhythm,'' said Jaycox, who returned to practice on Tuesday. "I feel good now and I should be OK the rest of the way.''
And that likely means the Cougars, too, will get well soon.