Possessing talent, experience and confidence, the Greenwich Academy lacrosse team knew it was primed to produce another standout season, perhaps its best in recent years, but its 2020 campaign never began.
The COVID-19 outbreak forced the cancellation of all of the Gators’ games, so the team featuring eight seniors, who will play sports at the collegiate level next season, didn’t have an opportunity to showcase its skills.
Still, the group of eight seniors left their unique mark on the program.
“The 2020 team, I don’t know if we will ever have a more talented class,” said GA coach Melissa Anderson, who guided the Gators to a record of 13-2 in 2019. “It would have been a challenging season, because we pushed the schedule further. We were going to play four of the top 10-ranked teams the first two weeks. I think we would have stood out.”
GA’s lacrosse seniors include captains Tessa Brooks and Taylor Lane, both of whom are captains and Eliza Bowman, Katie Goldsmith, Grace Schulze, Binney Huffman, Kayla Tillman and Cate Spaulding.
Brooks will play lacrosse at Georgetown University and Lane will compete at Yale.
Bowman will play at Johns Hopkins University (lacrosse), Goldsmith will play at Georgetown (lacrosse), Schulze is set to further her field hockey career at Princeton University, while Huffman is primed to play squash at Harvard.
Tillman is heading to Notre Dame (lacrosse) and Spaulding will bring her lacrosse goalie skills to Skidmore.
A 2019 All-NEPSAC Team selection and 2018 and 2019 Under Armour All-America Underclass Team honoree, Lane registered 82 goals, 35 assists, 99 draw controls and 195 gained possessions during her career.
“These times are pretty challenging, we had the highest of hopes this season with a big, experienced senior class,” Lane said. “It is difficult knowing our high school careers have ended not the way we wanted. But these times have taught us that we should be grateful for what GA has given us the past four years. The experience of being on the team has taught me so much and I’m thankful for every moment. I have learned so much from Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Johnson (assistant coach, Katie Johnson).”
Also one of the captains of Greenwich Academy’s 2019 lacrosse squad, Lane starred on the school’s soccer team as well. She was a senior soccer captain.
“I can’t imagine high school without being a multi-sport athlete,” said Lane, who was named to the 2019 All-NEPSAC Lacrosse Team. “I enjoyed the multi-sport experience. The skills cross over so well to the other field.”
Anderson is highly impressed with Lane’s versatility.
“Taylor is a dominant athletic presence on both the lacrosse and soccer fields,” Anderson said. “Her accomplishments range the entire span of the lacrosse field, from the defensive end line to the goal mouth. She is a complete player, a two-way middie, who is deadly in the offensive end. She led the team in interceptions every year.”
Known by her teammates for the determination and hustle she displays on the field, Lane has learned from the coaches she’s competed for at each level. She played club lacrosse for the Connecticut Grizzlies, which is under the direction of Lisa Lindley (Darien High School coach), besides excelling at GA.
“My mom played lacrosse and soccer in college at Boston College and she first got me on the lacrosse field,” Lane said. “All of my coaches have prepared me to play at the next level and I am super excited to attend Yale this fall.”
Brooks, who received US Lacrosse All-America Team honors in 2019, registered 57 goals, 18 assists, 121 draw controls and 199 gained possessions as a midfielder.
She said the team is frequently trying to communicate.
“The spring is always my favorite time of year,” Brooks said. “We are all in the same boat, it’s an unfortunate time, but I am just trying to stay positive. We have Zoom meetings twice a week to see everyone and to make up for the time we are losing. Even though we don’t have a season, we are still a family and our coaches have been super proactive in sending us workouts to keep us feeling motivated, healthy and fit.”
Brooks was also one of the Gators’ biggest scoring threats in soccer.
“Soccer helped my lacrosse game,” Brooks said. “The conditioning, movement on the field — a lot of soccer carries on to lacrosse.”
Said Anderson: “Tessa is an elite cover middie, who has successfully neutralized many of the best midfield and attack players in the northeast over the past few years. Her defensive instincts and footwork make her a force to be reckoned with.”
This time next year, Brooks will be at Georgetown.
“I am looking to grow my game in every aspect and playing at the collegiate level provides you with higher competition, so it’s really a challenge,” she said. “One of the things that drew me to Georgetown is the team is a close-knit group, like GA. They are like a family.”
The Johns Hopkins-bound Bowman notched 97 goals and 22 assists during her distinguished GA career. She earned US Lacrosse All-America accolades in 2019 and was a finalist for the 2019 Heather Leigh Albert Award at the USL National Tournament. Bowman was also a 2019 Under Armour All-America Underclass Team selection.
“Playing lacrosse at GA has been one of my favorite parts of high school,” Bowman said. “Playing with supportive coaches and teammates meant so much to me and provided me with a great growth experience. Our senior class has made an amazing contribution to the program. We learned a lot about sticking together and working toward a common goal.”
The GA coaches have witnessed all of Bowman’s strengths.
“Eliza is a true student of the game, using film study to diagnose opportunities and areas of improvement for herself and her team,” Anderson said. “Her shots are precise, well-timed and she has an uncanny knack for the open field double team with some of the best checking on the team.”
Bowman fondly recalls the team’s 2019 season finale.
“When we played Oak Knoll School in New Jersey last year they were one of the highly regarded teams in the country and we ended up taking them to overtime, where we fell short,” Bowman said. “But we proved to ourselves we can compete with one of the top teams in the country. When we came off the field, some of their parents came up to us and said we were the best team they played all year.”
Bowman knows she’s received a significant athletic foundation at GA.
“Coach Anderson and coach Johnson have taught me a lot about being a part of a team and challenging myself,” she said. “My hockey coaches at GA also impacted me and my dad to this day, helps me. I’ll go and shoot on the field with my dad, which is what we did throughout house play, travel and middle school.”
Bowman also believes the team was headed for a strong season, to say the least.
“I think that’s the hardest part of what happened, thinking about what could have been,” Bowman said. “I was looking forward to this being the culmination of all our work and proving what we could do.”
Goldsmith, who posted 64 goals and 48 assists heading into this season, received 2018 and 2019 Under Armour All-America Underclass Team honors.
She will join Brooks on Georgetown’s lacrosse field.
“I am definitely really excited for that, Tessa is one of my best friends, so we’re excited to make the transition together,” Goldsmith said.
Though the spring season is on hold, Goldsmith noted the team still practiced a bit in March and competed in a preseason tournament in January.
“We were lucky to have almost two weeks of practice, including tryouts, before the season was stopped,” said Goldsmith, who is known for her speed and creativity on offense. “We were lucky to have that time together, while some teams didn’t have an opportunity like that.”
Playing at the Spooky Nook tournament in Pennsylvania over the winter, GA made its mark.
“Our team lost to the No. 1 team in the country by one goal and we lost only one game, while winning three,” Goldsmith said. “We could definitely see our potential and all of us were excited for the season, since our coaches did a great job of setting up games against some of the top teams in the nation.”
Goldsmith too, excelled on the Gators’ soccer squad.
“Soccer was also such a big part of my high school experience,” she said. “It helped me see the field in terms of keeping my head up – the skills in both sports are easily used.”
Said Anderson: “Katie has great hands, quick feet, superior vision and has the ability to run our offense from the X position, use her quick first step to force turnovers.”
Schulze, a dynamic playmaker made the All-NEPSAC 2019 team. She entered the season with 73 goals, 36 assists, 103 draw controls and 228 gained possessions.
“Anyone who has followed GA athletics can’t help but stand in awe of Grace’s athleticism in many sports,” Anderson said. “She has a unique combination of great anticipatory skills, competitive spirt and elite hand-eye ability.”
Also a prolific field hockey and ice scorer, Schulze is always difficult to defend.
“Grace is happiest when she’s competing and she loves the battle as much as the victory,” Anderson said. “She has the greatest level of compete we’ve ever seen. Although she’s known for her goal scoring in other sports, her greatest contribution for us was disrupting the other team’s momentum in the midfield and on defense with her quick reflexes and incredible gained possession stats.”
The Harvard-bound Huffman committed only 10 turnovers her entire career, while anchoring an effective defense.
“Binney provided a steady presence in the backfield as a three-year starter for us,” Anderson said. “She’s a smart player, taking calculated risks and coming through with clutch plays in big games. Our goalkeepers depended on Binney in the field general role and she communicates so well. With only 10 unforced errors in her entire career, we counted on Binney to come up with the ball, as she anchored a defense where the mission was not just to prevent a shot, but force a turnover.”
During the winter sports season, Huffman also keyed a Greenwich Academy squad that won its fifth consecutive title at the U.S. High School Team Squash Championships.
Spaulding made 78 saves her junior season, helping GA flourish throughout.
“Cate’s steady improvement and success since middle school has a lot to do with her incredible attitude, openness to constructive criticism and work ethic,” Anderson said. “She has great self-awareness, makes corrections to her own game when needed, while instructing her defense from the goal cage.”
Tillman was also a key defender.
“Kayla was a great addition to our program in 2019, using her strong voice and positional experience to help anchor the defense. Even while injured last season, she continued to improve her lacrosse IQ – watching film and supporting the team from the sidelines.”
Known as an exceptional communicator on the field by her teammates, Tillman will play lacrosse at Notre Dame next season.
Though this group of seniors’ GA days will soon end, they’ll remember the academic and athletic memories they’ve experienced at the school.
“Playing on the lacrosse team has definitely impacted my experience at high school,” Lane said. “I spent a lot of time playing sports with my best friends. They are the ones I hang out with with outside of school and they will always be my best friends.”
Said Brooks: “I credit my amazing coaches and teammates for helping to shape my experience at GA. I’ve learned how important determination, hard work, perseverance and what it means to be a teammate.”