When Sacred Heart Greenwich defeated visiting Greens Farms Academy for the FAA Tournament championship on Friday it didn’t mark the final game of the spring at the school’s lacrosse field.
There was still a lot of action on Sacred Heart’s lacrosse field and its field hockey pitch, as 16 teams competed in one of the school’s signature sports event of the year.
The Katie Cassidy Higgins Memorial Lacrosse Tournament celebrated its 17th anniversary on Sunday at Sacred Heart — the school the late Cassidy Higgins loved so much.
A star lacrosse, field hockey and basketball player at Sacred Heart, Cassidy Higgins died at the age of 19 during her sophomore year at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. She was struck by a motorcycle while crossing the street near the St. Lawrence University campus. Cassidy Higgins was a member of the lacrosse team at St. Lawrence, after registering 66 goals for Sacred Heart’s lacrosse squad during her senior year in 1996.
Sunday’s Katie Cassidy Higgins ‘96 Memorial Lacrosse Tournament included 16 middle school teams (sixth, seventh and eighth grade squads) from Fairfield and Westchester County and parts of New York City. Along with each team competing in several games, the young athletes were treated to music that was played throughout the day and had a variety of food to items to choose from, as several food trucks were on hand.
Face painting was offered, a bake sale took place and T-shirts and other lacrosse items were sold at the tournament. The event benefited the Katie Cassidy Higgins Scholarship Fund. The Katie Cassidy Higgins Scholarship goes to a Sacred Heart student-athlete who is going into her freshman year at the school and is offered every four years.
An addition to this year’s tournament was a free lacrosse clinic offered for girls ages 8 to 10. The clinic was conducted by the Sacred Heart lacrosse coaching staff and members of the Tigers squad.
“This tournament means everything to our family,” said Katie’s mother, Tricia Higgins O’Callaghan. “You lose somebody you love and they pass away, but you don’t want to lose them again by forgetting their memory, or their life and what they were like when they were here.”
The several vendors on hand also gave a percentage of their earnings toward the Katie Higgins Scholarship Fund.
“This day is all about Katie,” said Higgins O’Callaghan, a Harrison, N.Y., resident. “She loved her school, she loved her sports and all the girls here. Everybody shows up for this and remembers Katie, which we love. It’s a beautiful day — our whole family comes, probably about 30 to 40 people.
It has a different feel to it this year — it’s a little bit different every year. This year, we had a free clinic for an hour-and-a-half, which was a great, new thing we added.”
Each member of Sacred Heart’s lacrosse team was present at the tournament and helped out at the free clinic.
“It’s awesome, it’s a great way to support a really good cause and get exposure for the school,” said Sacred Heart junior Morgan Smith, who plays on the lacrosse team. “We ran a clinic, which was really fun and it was a fun day of lacrosse.”
Tigers lacrosse captains Ryan Smith, Athena Corroon and Hilary Hoover lent their expertise to the youngsters.
“This is the first clinic that we did, so it’s always nice to cap off the season with thisis tournament,” said Ryan Smith, who will play lacrosse at Boston College, after registering 204 career goals for the Tigers. “It was nice to get the team together with the little girls, because they look up to us. To try to connect with them is great.”
Sacred Heart finished its season with a record of 18-1, including a 13-1 win over Greens Farms Academy in last week’s FAA Tournament final.
“It was an amazing game and the best way to end our season,” Ryan Smith said.
Hoover, who will play lacrosse at Cornell University next spring, always looks forward to the Katie Cassidy Higgins event.
“I was here in middle school, so I remember coming to this tournament when I was younger,” said Hoover, who was one of the Tigers lacrosse team’s key defenders. “To be able to help out today is a full circle experience for a good cause. The culture of sports and tradition here at Sacred Heart is special and to see that today is awesome.”
Added Corroon, who will continue her lacrosse career at the U.S. Naval Academy: “It’s always nice being here at this tournament, which supports a great cause. The clinic that we had for the kids was a lot of fun. They were all so amazing and had such great attitudes.”
Ameilia Sheehan, who also helped out at the clinic, will be one of the senior leaders on next spring’s Sacred Heart squad.
“We had a fantastic group of senior leaders this year,” said Sheehan, one of the team’s leading scorers. “The captains really pushed us the whole season and I couldn’t have asked for a better team. Hopefully next year, we can do just as good as we did this year.”
Sacred Heart athletic director Elizabeth Dennison was pleased to see another Katie Cassidy Higgins event go smoothly.
“It’s nice to have so many teams from Westchester and Fairfield counties come to play,” Dennison said. “It’s a really high level of lacrosse and it’s nice to have so many people on campus enjoy what was a beautiful day and enjoy the sport of lacrosse.”