Greenwich High girls lacrosse is working hard for a return to finals

Greenwich High School’s Carolyn Paletta looks to find the open Cardinal during last year’s CIAC class L championship game. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Greenwich High School’s Carolyn Paletta looks to find the open Cardinal during last year’s CIAC class L championship game. — Paul Silverfarb photo

After falling a game short of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class L championship, head coach Caitlin Keane has her team determined to make another run at the championship.

“We are a young team, so we are looking to develop with each game,” Keane said. “I think the girls are doing exactly that. We pick certain areas of the game where we want to focus on each day in practice and in each game.

The girls have been working really hard. It’s a new team and there’s a lot of things we need to work on, but we are improving the little things that I think will help us be a better team towards the end of the season.”

Last year Greenwich High finished the regular season with a 13-2 record and advanced to the FCIAC semifinals before falling to New Canaan High School.

After picking up the No. 4 seed in the class L tournament, Big Red beat Newtown High School in the opening round 16-14 and then blitzed No. 5 seeded Cheshire 19-9 in the quarterfinals. Against top-seeded Glastonbury High School, Greenwich came away with the thrilling 11-8 victory to set up another contest against No. 2 seeded Darien High School. However, in the championship game, the Lady Cardinals were defeated 18-6.

“I think they definitely want it,” Keane said. “This is such a talented group of athletes that just want to get out there, play and have fun. These girls definitely have the drive to win and want to learn from mistakes. They are hungry to get back to those championship games and hopefully come away with wins this year. I definitely think it’s a possibility, but we need to keep on working as hard as we can.”

This season Big Red will be led by senior captains Emily Ludington, Nicole Graham and Carolyn Paletta.

“Nicole didn’t play last year due to her illness, Emily wasn’t a starter last year and was not an impact player and Carolyn was the only player that was an impact player last year. This group of captains really had to show by how they played, their attitude towards practice and their willingness to get better. The way they are doing things is making the whole team want to get better. It’s great to have a bunch of captains that have to work just as hard. The three of them are doing a great job.”

In net, Big Red is led by junior Kylie Ginsburg, who will be making her return between the pipes. Also making a return is sophomore Caroline Schultz. Last season Ginsburg competed in 15 games for the Cards, while Schultz played in nine.

Also in the mix is Greenwich Academy transfer Nanny Burke, a junior.

“Kylie worked really hard in the offseason,” Keane said. “She came to us last year when we were really in need of a goalie. Both Kylie and Caroline stepped into that role really well and the two of them worked hard and got themselves into the best shape that they could be in to start the season. They both want to get better for their team. We also got Nanny Burke on the team now, so now we have three top goalies on the varsity level. That’s great because there’s competition amongst the three of them to be the best and be the starter. They work well together.”

Backing up the GHS goalies on defense will be Graham, Ludington, sophomore Sloane Caan and junior Caitlin Brady.

“We have a quick defense, so we want them to pressure girls and use the speed to our advantage,” Keane said.

At midfield, GHS has a plethora of talented lacrosse players. At the top of the list are sisters Carolyn and junior Natalie Paletta, as well as junior Meghan Collins. Last season Carolyn Paletta was second on the team with 80 points and was tied with Emily Johnson for the most assists with 23. However, it was her team-leading 76 draw controls that stands out the most. Collins added 17 goals and three assists last season.

“The three of them need to win the draw for us and take control of that aspect of the game,” Keane said. “As we learned in past games, the draw control determines who wins the game. The three of them on the turf have to be aggressive and be the first ones to the ball for us.”

Juniors Anne Dunster and Maddy Graves, as well as freshman Grace Paletta and senior Hannah Koorbusch, are pacing the attack.

So far, Big Red has been lighting up the scoreboard. Against Danbury, a 19-9 victory for Big Red, Dunster added five goals and five assists. Carolyn Paletta finished with five goals and three assists, while Graves contributed with three goals and one assist. Collins also finished with the hat trick.

In another game against Ludlowe, a 14-4 win, Carolyn Paletta added five goals and one assist, while Graves netted two goals. Koorbusch finished with one goal and four assists, while Dunster added a goal and two assists.
Dunster, Grace Paletta and Collins each added a goal and an assist in the victory.

“Carolyn, Anne, Grace and Meghan have been doing a great job for us,” Keane said. “With each game, the attack’s confidence grows. It’s a young group of girls that are in on attack and not many of them saw that much playing time last year. This year is something new for them and they are stepping into their roles nicely. It’s good to also see the teamwork and passing that’s happening. It’s not just one person scoring. It’s a bunch of them.”

What makes the attack so strong for Keane is its ability to spread the scoring around and that it’s not just one person that needs to dominate every game they play.

“It’s great when a team is well-balanced,” Keane said. “It’s great for the team morale because they know they can count on each other and not just one person. Each person is more than willing to step up into a role and they trust each other. That’s huge.”

With the season still so young, Keane said that the team’s biggest strength has been its willingness to accept new roles and to be challenged.

“They really are very coachable and all they want to do is learn,” Keane said. “As a coach, you can’t ask for more. They just want to get better and as long as we keep that positive attitude, I think we can go pretty far. I am hoping by June our attack is more aggressive and the defense is also aggressive. The team’s confidence also needs to be very high when they are playing.”

So far, Big Red is 2-1 overall and will be back in action Saturday when it travels to Stamford High School for a game that gets underway at 11 a.m.

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