Testing its skills against a new-look schedule, featuring more NEPSAC opponents than previous years, certainly didn’t prevent the Greenwich Academy lacrosse team from continuing its springtime excellence in 2018.
Facing some different foes, GA rose to the challenge and convincingly registered a sparkling record of 15-1 — a similar mark from when it played in the FAA for several decades, before leaving the conference last season.
So as the Gators enter year two of playing as sort of an independent team, they will do so with plenty of determination and desire.
“We have a lot of tough matchups this year more, than ever,” Greenwich Academy junior co-captain Taylor Lane said. “Every game is going to be a fight. Working hard from the initial whistle of every game no matter who the opponent is, is going to be key to the success of our program.”
A dynamic, multi-sport athlete, Lane is one of the numerous playmakers the Gators’ lacrosse squad possesses. A midfielder, who could also see action at attack, Lane showed a glimpse of her scoring prowess in GA’s recent scrimmage against Bronxville (N.Y.), converting all four shots she took.
“I love being a part of this program,” Lane said. “The chemistry is amazing and pretty unmatched by any opponent we will play.”
Greenwich Academy has experienced players on each line, including its backline, which is led by senior co-captain Leila Schneider.
“I’m very excited, I think we have a very strong team this year, so I’m excited to help lead it,” said Schneider, the squad’s only senior. “We have a younger team, but a very strong team and our attack moves the ball pretty quickly, which is good for our transition.”
The Gators begin its season on April 4 against visiting Ridgefield — a formidable FCIAC team — at 5 p.m.
“The more tough teams we can play, the better we’ll be,” GA coach Melissa Anderson said. “The kids deserve a lot of credit for the work they put into this program.”
AT THE HELM: Anderson is starting her sixth season as Greenwich Academy’s coach. The Gators have won approximately 90 percent of their games during her tenure. Returning as an assistant coach is Katie Johnson.
WHO’S GONE?: Karina Schulze, who served as one of the captains, graduated and is playing lacrosse at the University of Chicago. Emmeline Kelley, also a captain last season, is continuing her lacrosse career at Colorado College. Courtney DeNaut graduated and is doing a postgraduate year at Lawrenceville School and last year’s starting goalie Maggie Reville is on the lacrosse team at Hamilton College. Holly Johnson was also among some of the graduates from last season’s squad.
ATTACK: Juniors Eliza Bowman and Katie Goldsmith are expected to lead GA at attack, while junior Grace Schulze and Lane, both of whom play midfield, should also contribute at attack.
“The last couple of years our program has been versatile in who can contribute and who can play where,” Anderson said. “We try to move kids around a lot and make sure everyone is a threat.”
Sophomore Rachel Rogers begins her first season on the team at the attack position.
MIDFIELD: Junior Tessa Brooks (four goals in scrimmage vs. Bronxville, one of last year’s top scorers), Lane, Schulze, Paige Lipman (sophomore) and Margaret Maruszewski (sophomore) give the Gators what should be, a high-scoring group of midfielders.
“We have been working on building a lot of offensive chemistry through the midfield and into the attacking end,” Lane said.
DEFENSE: Schneider, junior Binney Huffman, junior Katharine Glassmeyer and sophomore Julia Freedman return to what figures to be a stellar defensive unit. Joining the defense this spring are junior Kayla Tillman, sophomore Alessia Packard, sophomore Lila Murray, freshman Ava Butz and freshman Maddie Holden.
GOALIES: Cate Spaulding, a junior, is the team’s starting goalie.
“Cate is really confident, positive and loud back there,” Anderson said. “She is very aggressive and poised when she gets the ball.”
STRENGTHS: “There are a lot of dual-sport athletes on this field, which I think, is pretty unique,” Lane said.
Indeed, a number of GA’s lacrosse players compete in multiple sports.
Brooks, Goldsmith, Lane, Lipman and Maruszewski are each standout soccer players, who contributed to the school’s FAA title-winning team in the fall.
Bowman and Butz played ice hockey, while Schulze is a three-sport star (lacrosse, ice hockey, field hockey). Freedman, Glassmeyer, Murray and Packard also play on the school’s field hockey team and Huffman is also a squash player.
CAPTAIN’S COMMENT: “We have a tough schedule ahead of us and we lost a good, tough senior class from last year,” Schneider said. “But we all have the skill set, we just have to keep on on working together. I think we have good chemistry, so we have to continue work on communication and our teamwork.”