The past two seasons saw the Sacred Heart Greenwich lacrosse team capture the FAA Tournament title in convincing fashion, while registering sparkling overall records.
With the skill, experience and determination the Tigers once again possess, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team crowds around the FAA championship trophy for another winning team picture in their final game.
“We have very strong junior and senior classes, with great leadership on this team,” Sacred Heart coach Tara Clough said. “Our team is really looking forward to this season. To have these great players, who are so passionate about the game is huge for us.”
Such passion begins with captains Ryan Smith, Hilary Hoover and Athena Corroon, all of whom will continue their respective lacrosse careers at the Division I level.
The Boston College-bound Smith will help anchor the midfield — a position she’s thrived at the past three seasons.
“This year we definitely have the most depth that we had in my four years here,” said Smith, who also captained the school’s field hockey and basketball teams. “We have the most potential to go as far as possible.”
Hoover, who will take her lacrosse skills to Cornell University and Corroon, who is headed to the United States Naval Academy, where she will play, each spearhead the defense — a unit that’s also prospered in recent seasons.
“Defense is a spot on the field that we are really successful on, because we really have a strong unit back there,” said Hoover, who also served as a captain of Sacred Heart’s field hockey team. “What’s also unique about our team is that we have really versatile players, so while they are able to play strong defense, we are also able to push it up into the midfield and offense.”
Corroon also has a lot of experience as a captain, as she also helped lead the school’s soccer squad.
“Defense takes a lot of communication and teamwork and being able to lead the defense is something I’m really proud of,” Corroon said. “It has been so much fun to see how much our team has grown over the years — beyond what words can describe.”
In preparation for the upcoming season, the Tigers scrimmaged perennial state powerhouse Darien and posted a 10-7 win. They hosted Ridgefield on Wednesday and were victorious, 12-5. Sacred Heart plays Greenwich High in a scrimmage on Friday.
“We set up some games against strong FCIAC teams and we went to IMG Academy (in Florida) for a week, which is great conditioning and training for us,” Clough said. “It helped us set up our strategies and define our team culture.”
Sacred Heart opens its 2019 campaign Wednesday with a home game against NEPSAC foe Kent School.
Here’s a look at this year’s squad.
AT THE HELM: Clough is entering her fifth season as coach of Sacred Heart. The Tigers finished with a record of 17-2 in 2018 and notched a 19-3 win over Rye Country Day School in the title game of the FAA Tournament. They won their final 13 games of the season.
Sacred Heart went 13-4 in 2017 en route to beating Greens Farms Academy for the conference championship.
WHO’S GONE?: Graduation claimed Samantha Clark and Christina DeConcini from last season’s championship squad.
ATTACK: Junior Lily DeConcini and sophomore Fiona Lewis should spark the squad at low attack. DeConcini consistently powered the offense last year and had five goals in the team’s FAA title game.
Junior Katie Keller (committed to Duke), senior Caroline Paul and sophomore Hannah Dempsey each return at high attack, where they should be offensive threats.
MIDFIELD: Ryan Smith, junior Morgan Smith (committed to University of Pennsylvania), junior Amelia Sheehan (committed to North Carolina) and Grace Lillis give Sacred Heart a versatile, offensive-minded midfield.
DEFENSE: Hoover and Corroon should form quite an effective combination on defense, along with Morgan Smith and junior Claire Chmiel (commited to Villanova).
GOALIE: Sophomore goalie Rachel Keefe is beginning her third season on the squad and is coming off two highly effective seasons.
CAPTAINS COMMENTS: “I think that our strength of competition — our schedule — is something that will push us in every practice to get better every day,” Ryan Smith said. “We have a lot of talented individuals, but we will be unstoppable if we play as a team and like we know we can.”