CONCORD -- Kerianne Hunt, normally a leader by example, had a simple, but direct, message for her teammates on the Carondelet High lacrosse team as they prepared for overtime in the North Coast Section Division I championship:
We are not losing this game.
There was nothing lost in translation. The Cougars scored both goals in overtime to beat Amador Valley 9-7 and claim a record third straight NCS Division I championship.
In the middle of it all, literally, was Hunt, who had 50 goals and 46 assists in 2013, and led Carondelet with 50 ground balls and 85 draws won. She was named the East Bay Athletic League's most valuable player and was named a US Lacrosse High School All-American, along with teammates Erin Jeffery and Katie Merritt.
For those accomplishments, Hunt, a midfielder, was selected as Bay Area News Group's East Bay Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year.
"She made a huge impact on our team this year," Carondelet coach Rick Jeffery said. "She had a calming influence. As a coach, I felt pretty good about things when she was on the field for us."
Expectations were high for the Cougars going into the 2013 season. Seven seniors had already declared where they were playing NCAA Division I lacrosse -- Hunt is going to Brown -- and some juniors had committed to Division I programs.
But star power and past accomplishments were not going to guarantee much this season. Carondelet still had to play as a team and was going to be challenged locally by Amador Valley, itself a team with several college-caliber players.
Hunt helped to keep the Cougars focused on the goal of a section championship after a regular season loss to Amador Valley. Carondelet won its last six regular-season games, then outscored its first three opponents in the NCS playoffs 58-16 to set up a rematch with No. 1 seed Amador.
Carondelet took a 4-1 lead in the first half, but Amador Valley rallied in the second half and scored with nine seconds left in regulation time to send the game to overtime.
But Cali Castagnola scored the eventual game winner for the Cougars.
"We were fully aware that it was going to be a hard game," Hunt said. "Amador Valley's a great team, but we knew we could bounce back. Nobody panicked, and our team did an incredible job."