Greenwich High girls lax ready to tackle tough stretch

Greenwich High’s Emily Bacon (12) works the ball away from her Brien McMahon High School opponent during Saturday’s game at Jack Casagrande Field. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Greenwich High’s Emily Bacon (12) works the ball away from her Brien McMahon High School opponent during Saturday’s game at Jack Casagrande Field. — Paul Silverfarb photo

After getting stunned by Ridgefield High School 12-11 on Thursday, Greenwich High School head coach Caitlin Keane told her girls lacrosse team to quickly put its first loss of the regular season in the rear view mirror.

After a tough practice, a refocused Lady Cardinals lacrosse team took to the field once again Saturday night against Brien McMahon High School and dominated the game from start to finish, en route to a 21-6 victory.

“Before we even left that field up in Ridgefield, we forgot about it,” Keane said. “I told them to put it out of their heads and we need to bond right away. We have big games coming up and really couldn’t think any more about it. They really jumped right back at it during practice.”

The Lady Cardinals, who finished with 41 shots on goal against Brien McMahon, were led by Carolyn Paletta, who finished with four goals and four assists. Teammates Maddy Graves, Emma Christie and Sophie Waine each finished with a hat trick; however, Waine and Christie each added an assist.

“Thursday we had a couple of problems with team chemistry, but today we flattened all those out and we are working as a team so much more,” GHS defender Claire O’Connor said. “This is really what we need because our season is coming to its toughest part. This is a perfect time for us to really come together as a team.”

Meghan Collins finished with two goals, while the group of Anne Dunster, Sarah Rider, Emily Johnson, Jenny Goggin, and Maggie Sweeney each finished with one goal. Johnson, Waine, Christie, and Dunster were also each credited with one assist on the day.

“We had a rough night Thursday night against Ridgefield, so coming back today we needed to get to playing the way we normally play, which is transition, moving the ball and shooting the ball,” Keane said. “They did exactly that and I’m proud of them. They showed their true selves tonight and I couldn’t be happier.”

From the beginning of the season, Keane believes that it’s her team’s defense that has improved the most, as the group of O’Connor, Natalie Paletta, Daniele Raviele have stepped up their game.

“They have done such a good job improving all the time,” Keane said. “Molli [Haimerl] has been out hurt with a concussion, but those three have done a good job filling the shoes of Molli and are anchoring the defense. They are fantastic.”

While the defense has been getting better after every game, Keane has very little to worry about when it comes to the team’s offensive output. In the team’s first 12 games of the season, Greenwich has scored more than 10 goals in every game it has played. In fact, it has tallied an amazing 196 goals, compared to the opposition scoring only 80 goals.

Leading the way on offense have been Carolyn Paletta, Johnson, Christie, Dunster, Waine, and Rider, to name just a few.

“It’s great when teams have powerhouses on attack,” Keane said. “What makes our team special is that we don’t have that one go-to girl for goals. We have seven or eight girls that can score at any time. It’s hard for another program to come in and watch us because we have so many girls scoring. It’s hard for them to focus on which one of our players they are going to try and stop. It’s a great thing to have.”

Although the Cardinals are firing on all cylinders so far this season, Keane isn’t satisfied and still expects Greenwich to improve on all aspects of its game.

“I want constant improvement,” Keane said. “I want cleaner groundballs, cleaner passes and finishing every shot. I dream of the day our shot percentage is close to 100%. It’s every coach’s dream.”

“We need to work on team chemistry and working as a team on defense, such as sliding, making the goalies vocal and giving everybody confidence,” O’Connor said. “That is improving every day and it’s only making us better as a team.”

With the victory against Brien McMahon, Greenwich upped its overall record to 11-1 on the season. If Big Red plans on keeping only one loss during the regular season, it won’t be an easy task. Yesterday Greenwich hit the road and battled perennial power Darien High School.

Today at 6, Greenwich returns home for a game against Staples High School, the same team that gave Big Red a scare last season. On Monday Greenwich hits the road once again for a game against Daniel Hand High School, which had a 6-5 record as of press time.

A day later, it’s the battle for town bragging rights, as GHS will host state power Greenwich Academy at 4.

“We are really excited,” O’Connor said. “All we can expect is the best, and that’s how we are preparing for all the games left on our schedule.”

“It doesn’t get any easier for us, but I’m looking forward to it,” Keane said. “The girls love the big games. Those games against Darien, Staples and GA are fun for us. It’s a great time and we can’t wait to see them. Who knows what the outcome will be, but no matter what we are still looking forward to it.”

So far the season can’t go any better for O’Connor, who admitted she was a little nervous heading into this season, with Hannah Jeffrey and the entire GHS defense lost to graduation last year.

“I am extremely happy with this team,” O’Connor said. “Last year we had an amazing goalie and this year we’ve got two goalies that are doing a great job. Our attack is strong because of all the returners that we have. I think the defense and back has really stepped up and has shown that Greenwich isn’t a team that’s going to struggle because we lost 13 girls last year.”

Keane is a firm believer that the sky is the limit for the Lady Cardinals, as they’ve been working hard throughout the season to improve their game in an attempt at a class L three-peat.

“I don’t think we’ve reached our top potential yet and I think there’s still stuff to build on,” Keane said. “They keep on improving every day and surprise me. It’s nice to see.”

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