Traditional lacrosse powers in the New Haven area like the Hand boys and girls teams and Fairfield Prep boys team had their typical success during the 2016 season. But other local teams enjoyed their own success as well.
The Hand boys advanced to the CIAC Class M final where it lost 13-2 to New Canaan, the Hand girls won the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament championship and advanced to the Class M semifinals where it lost 10-9 in overtime to Barlow, and Fairfield Prep won the SCC tournament championship and advanced to the Class L semifinals.
In boys lacrosse, Guilford was one of the other local teams with success. The Indians just couldn’t seem to get over that overtime hump. The Indians lost 11-10 in OT to Fairfield Prep in the SCC tournament championship and lost 10-9 in overtime to New Fairfield in the Class M quarterfinals.
“When you get that close you like to go that extra distance,” Guiford coach Brian White said. “Overall, I’m proud of all my players because of their effort. They gave us everything they could give us, always played hard and never gave up.”
In girls lacrosse, Branford and Sheehan produced two surprising and impressive seasons.
Sheehan entered its third season competing on the varsity level. Coach Charissa Zbikowski had her team advance to the Class M quarterfinals where it lost 18-3 to Barlow and ended up 15-3. Among the top players for the Titans are attack players Emilee Giacondino (74 goals, 13 assists) and Caitlin Jagoda, defender Abbie Jagoda, defender and face-off specialist Lauren Hazelwood and goalie Kaitlyn Mills.
Earlier this season, Zbikowski said, “Coming into our third season as a varsity team, we knew this was our most talented team yet. With strong senior leadership, we were hopeful that we would have good chemistry on the field and fortunately for us, the girls worked so well together and had a lot of fun out there.”
Jackie Alessi Ceccolini and her Branford girls team made school history with a deep run in the Class M tournament. The Hornets advanced as far as the semifinals for the first time in school history. The Hornets lost 15-6 to New Canaan in the semifinals and ended up 16-3.
Among the top Branford players are midfielder and face-off specialist Autumn McHenry, attack player Carolyn Caminear, midfielders Sophie Spencer and Sabrina Torcellini, goalie Sydnie Smith and defenders Kendall Simmons and Morgan Gilman.
“This was the best season for Branford girls lacrosse, the first time we got as far as the Class M semifinals,” Ceccolini said after the Class M semifinal game. “The key for us is we never worried our opponents during the season. We only focused on our own performance, our own game plan with every player working hard and performing their specific roles for a solid team effort.”
The North Haven girls team also had a solid season, finishing the regular season 13-3 and advancing to the Class M first round where it lost 18-7 to East Lyme. Among the top players for the Indians are attack players Kylie Brandt, Annie Uyecki, Sam Kwieraga and Mandy Brock and defenders Cailyn Priebe and Morgan Heyl.
While the Cheshire girls are traditionally an elite lacrosse team in the SCC, the Rams had a rough 2-3 start in its first five games due to injuries and illness.
Local standout Meghan Dutchyshyn was among the Rams players who helped carry the team those first five games with her offense and defense. Coach Dan Warburton continually made adjustments and tweaked his starting lineup most of the season. By the last week of the season the Rams were healthy and back on track with a stronger defense and improved team chemistry.
As a result, the Rams advanced to the SCC tournament final where it lost 11-10 in overtime to Hand and the Class L quarterfinals where it lost 13-8 to Wilton. The Rams finished the season 14-6.
“Our defense was there all year but we stepped it up the last few weeks of the season,” Warburton said in a recent interview. “Our offense made a big improvement in the final weeks of the season. Meghan was a big part of our offense early on. But our balanced offense and scoring late in the season helped take some pressure off Meghan. That combination of improved offense and defense helped get us to the SCC final. As the season progressed we played smart and confident, especially when we started stringing some wins together.”
Among the other top players for Cheshire are Carolynn Pechmann, one of the top goalies in the New Haven area, midfielder Kaitlyn D’Andrea and defender Bailey Cunningham.
Good sports: Cheshire boys lacrosse
The Cheshire boys lacrosse team received a special honor from the Connecticut High School Lacrosse Officials Association on Monday when the Rams learned they are the recipients of the CHSLOA Sportsmanship Award.
The award is given annually to a boys lacrosse program that, in the opinion of officials statewide, demonstrates excellent sportsmanship.
“We recently found out about this and it’s a great honor for our entire team,” Rich Pulisiciano said. “Our team had a good season and this award makes it special. Good sportsmanship is one of the things we stress at Cheshire High.”