Though no games were played, the members of the Sacred Heart Greenwich lacrosse team and coach Aly Costigan, certainly won’t forget the spring of 2020.
The three-time defending FAA champion Tigers were intent on continuing their reign of supremacy in the league and producing another dominant season.
Yet like every team in the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the Tigers’ 2020 campaign before it even started. Possessing four seniors who will play lacrosse at the collegiate level, Sacred Heart, which rolled to a record of 18-1 in 2019, tried its best to have a virtual-type season this spring.
“It’s not what anyone expected our senior spring season to be like,” Tigers senior captain Morgan Smith said. “With help from our coach and the Sacred Heart community, we have been able to stay in touch with each other and we got to know each other on a personal level. We all tried really hard to connect with every player this spring.”
Experiencing such a scenario was especially challenging for a first-year coach such as Costigan.
“It has definitely been tough,” said Costigan, who was going to begin her first season at the helm and also serves as the school’s assistant athletic director. “I was super excited to coach the team. I got to know the girls over the year by seeing them play other sports. At the same time, we were able to build some team bonding, through structured Zoom weekly meetings. We had little, fun virtual competitions to connect with each other.”
Costigan replaced Tara Clough, who spent five successful seasons as Sacred Heart’s coach, guiding the squad to three FAA Tournament championships. Clough now coaches the girls’ lacrosse team at Greenwich High School.
Katie Keller, Amelia Sheehan and Smith, all of whom will continue their lacrosse careers at the Division I level, each served as Sacred Heart’s 2020 captains.
Sheehan will bring her lacrosse skills to the University of North Carolina, the same squad Costigan starred at from 2012-2016, helping lead the Tar Heels to two NCAA Division I titles.
“Aly has been my favorite lacrosse player for so long,” said Sheehan who tallied two goals and four assists in the Tigers’ win over Greens Farms Academy in last season’s FAA Tournament final. “She played at the University of North Carolina, so I looked up to her. It would have been incredible having her coach me.”
A midfielder, Sheehan helped spark the Tigers’ offensively throughout her high school career and is eagerly anticipating her first collegiate lacrosse season at North Carolina.
“I am excited for the opportunity to compete for a national championship,” said Sheehan, who also captained the school’s soccer team. “Every day will be a challenge there, it will be a great learning experience. Sacred Heart has prepared me for my upcoming experience in life. I’ve met my absolute best friends through this program, which taught me what it means to play for something greater than yourself.”
Keller is heading to Duke University, where she will join the women’s lacrosse team.
“I’m so excited to start the next chapter of my life,” said Keller, who was recruited as a midfielder. “I knew that when I stepped on campus I wanted to go to Duke. They have an outstanding program, I love the coaches and they are looking to win a national title.”
Indeed, Keller knows Sacred Heart had the potential to produce another memorable spring season.
“I think this season would have been one of the best seasons Sacred Heart would have had,” Keller said. “We were so excited to start the season and so excited to get back out there. It has been a difficult time for the seniors, but we have all become stronger and we have found ways to grow as players and a team.”
An athlete for all seasons, Keller also played squash and field hockey at SHG.
“I think playing multiple sports is so helpful to all athletes,” she said. “You have time to focus on one thing at a time. Our field hockey team won the New England championship, which I also cherish.”
Next spring, Sheehan and Keller will be ACC opponents, with Sheehan playing at North Carolina and Keller competing at Duke.
“I am so excited about that,” Sheehan said. “Not only are Duke and North Carolina rival schools, it’s always such an incredible game, which always makes it more fun.”
One of the rivalry games Sacred Heart especially missed this spring was their annual showdown against neighborhood rival Greenwich Academy.
“The rivalry with Sacred Heart and Greenwich Academy is something I will never forget, they always bring a fight,” Sheehan said. “I can’t wait for more rivals when I get to North Carolina.”
Smith was a captain for each season, also serving as one during the Tigers’ championship field hockey season and successful basketball campaign.
“Being a captain this spring had an impact on me, I was so ready to lead the team this season and finish out my career on a high note my senior year,” Smith said. “I loved being a captain this year, even though we were in quarantine. We were looking forward to the GA game which is always a fun, competitive, intense game. We were hoping the new incoming freshmen would step up and fill their roles and we saw ourselves being successful this season.”
Smith is heading to the University of Pennsylvania, where she should aid the team at the midfield position. Her sister Ryan, a 2019 SHG graduate, plays lacrosse at Boston College.
“College is an intimidating place, even if you are not going to play a sport,” Smith said. “Lacrosse adds another level of nerves. But seeing my sister go through it has been reassuring to me. I’m looking forward to experiencing how fast paced the game is at the collegiate level.
It was great to be a part of something so special and I’m so appreciative of Sacred Heart.”
Claire Schmiel, a defender, will play lacrosse at Villanova next season. Schmiel helped lead the Tigers’ stingy defense in previous seasons.
Lily DeConcini will continue her academic career at the University of Southern California, as will Peyton Lauricella at the University of Texas, Sally Carter (Boston College) and Avery McCloskey (Georgetown).
“We definitely are going to miss the senior class, they brought a lot of talent to the table,” Costigan said. “Just by watching them in other sports and getting to know them in the short time we had together, I could see they were great leaders, competitive and good teammates.”
Indeed, Sacred Heart athletic director Liz Dennison knows it is tough seeing the seniors, who have meant so much to the program, depart.
“The senior class overall at Sacred Heart is an exceptional one,” Dennison said. “A lot of them have played multiple sports, so they have strengthened our program overall. Their multi-sport backgrounds have made them better at lacrosse and our program has been better and better over the years, due to the work of our athletes and current and former coaches. The excitement and enthusiasm among our athletes is contagious.”