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Irvington Girls' Lacrosse Falls in Sectional Semi

VALHALLA, N.Y. - Claudia Hammerschmidt scored six second-half goals, and teammate Katie Byrne scored four times in the first half at Valhalla High School on Tuesday to lead the Byram Hills girls' lacrosse team to a stunning 16-6 victory over Irvington and a spot in the Section 1 Class C championship game for the first time in school history.

"We began gaining confidence in a close loss against Nyack and then a tie with Rye earlier in the season," said Byram Hills coach Gail Lozado, who led the Bobcats to the historical benchmark in her first season at the helm. "We have built that confidence through the season and the playoffs. He (Irvington coach Pat DiBenedetto) has built a very good program there. We had to beat a very good team."

The seventh-seeded Bobcats proved they were ready to take on the best by beating the No. 3 seeded Bulldogs and earning the right to play the winner of the other Class C semifinal between Rye and Pearl River in Thursday's title game at Fox Lane High School.

Byrne led the offense in the first half as the 'Cats opened a 9-3 first-half lead and Hammerschmidt and Alex Fritz, who scored three times in the second half, helped build the lead to 13-6 with 10 minutes remaining in the game.

"We are clicking on offense because we have a few girls who score goals, so if Kate and I are double-teamed, Alex, Emma (Benzie), Emily (Byrne) or Marissa (Miller) can score," Hammerschmidt said. "We try to move the ball and we're working our offense."

While the Bobcats seemed able to score at will, the defense tightened and held the Bulldogs to three goals in each half. Kristen Palese scored three goals in the second half, Ciara Morley scored twice in the first half and Kaila Fearey added a goal for Irvington, which cut the lead to 9-5 early in the second half before Byram Hills scored seven of the next eight goals.

"We've been talking more on defense and helping each other a lot more," Christi Civitanova said. "I think we have more confidence in each other and we're playing very well right now."

Goalie K.C. Murray, who made several key saves in the first half, said her defense has improved through the season.

"We're playing well together as a team, and the offense puts pressure on the other team," Murray said. "We have to continue to play good defense to keep winning. We've never been in the finals before, so it's a big accomplishment."

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