Wednesday’s matchup against New Canaan couldn’t have soon enough for the Greenwich Academy lacrosse team, which was eager to finally compete against an opponent, after everyone was sidelined during the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greenwich Academy was excited to take the field for its scrimmage against visiting New Canaan and it showed, as the squads dueled to an intense 12-12 deadlock, before the Rams scored the game-winner in overtime.
“Everyone has experienced a lot the last year,” GA co-head coach Melissa Anderson said. “For us, it was really nice to see them get back on the field and do something they love and not be thinking about a lot of the other things that worried everyone for so long.”
“To have a competitive game against New Canaan to start the season is a huge gift to us,” added Katie Johnson, a co-head coach. A lot of public schools have availability to us at the beginning of April, which is great.”
Seniors Paige Lipman and Margaret Maruszewski are the captains of the Gators, who produced a record of 13-2 in 2019, before seeing their 2020 season get cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. GA’s 2020 graduating lacrosse class included Tessa Brooks, Taylor Lane, Eliza Bowman, Katie Goldsmith, Grace Schulze, Binney Huffman, Kayla Tillman and Cate Spaulding, most of whom are playing the sport at the collegiate level. With a younger squad this spring, Maruszewski and Lipman have been relied upon to help the team find its way.
“Not having a season was rough last year,” Anderson said. “That senior leadership last year was an important part of the program over time and they were a really joyful group. Everyone had to dust themselves off a little bit this year and figure out how to reconstitute the team. That’s where Paige and Margaret have helped a lot. They lead with joy and by example. The young kids need to learn how to be GA lacrosse players and they have helped lead the way.”
Both midfielders, Lipman and Maruszewski will continue their respective lacrosse careers at the collegiate level next season. Maruszewski will play at Dartmouth and Lipman is headed to the University of Pennsylvania.
“I’m really looking forward to playing at the next level,” Maruszewski said. “That’s what helped me get through this long quarantine and time off. It motivated me to stay active and look forward to my last season at GA and what’s beyond.”
Wednesday against New Canaan, Maruszewski scored a team-high five goals to pace GA.
“I thought the team played really well,” Maruszewski said. “It’s a lot to come back after a year of not playing together and I think everyone came together and implemented the things we were working on in practice.”
Greenwich Academy trailed New Canaan 5-2 just past the midway point of the first half, then was behind, 7-4 at halftime. The Gators rallied to seize a 12-10 advantage late in the second half, before the Rams tied the score at 12-12, then posted a 13-12 win in overtime.
“An important part of today was instilling confidence in each other and I think we really did that,” Maruszewski said. “The team got rolling in the second half. We notice in practice we kind of start off a little slow, people need a confidence boost. Once we instill that in each other we really get the ball rolling.”
Lipman tallied twice in Wednesday’s scrimmage and had a team-leading 11 draw controls.
“The first game was fun, I wanted a close game,” said Lipman, who like Maruszewski, is a four-year varsity athlete. “I was looking forward to playing lacrosse again for the past year. Every player stepped up.”
Said Johnson: “Both Paige and Margaret have seen significant time through their whole career at Greenwich Academy. They are incredible leaders, especially in the face of adversity. The way they have led us in the face of disappointment in how positive they’ve been has been so impressive.”
Alessia Packard, Georgia Gallagher, Lila Murray, Julia Freedman, Brecon Welch and Rachel Rogers are also seniors. Packard, a mainstay on defense for several seasons, will play lacrosse at Cornell. Murray, a defensive standout, will take her lacrosse skills to the University of Southern California, while Freedman will play field hockey at UPenn. Rogers will be looked upon to help carry the scoring load at attack, which is where Gallagher and Welch also play.
Taylor Glanville (attack), Ava Butz (midfielder), Maddie Holden (midfielder) and Emily Greenhaw (attack) are the team’s juniors. Elle Burdick (midfielder), Ellie Johnson (defender), Sienna Tejpaul (midfielder), Rebecca Arpano (goalie) and Mimi Novak (attack) are sophomores. Molly Moore (defense) and Dylan Casazza (attack) are freshmen.
Glanville registered two goals, Burdick had a hat trick, Tejpaul posted two assists and Rogers assisted on a goal on Wednesday.
“This year’s team is new, we lost a huge senior class last year, so it was nerve-wracking to go into the season with a lot less experienced players, but after tryouts a bunch of girls have stepped up,” Lipman said. “This first game will set the ball rolling. We work together as a team super well. There are just little things we need to sharpen up.”
Indeed, Lipman enjoys her role as one of the team’s captains.
“When I was a freshman coming on to this team, I looked up to the captains, so it’s unbelievable that I am one of the captains this year,” she said. “I look at all my teammates as my best friends and they support me as much as I support them. Everyone on our team is a leader in some way and has their own role on the team.”
Greenwich Academy scrimmages Greenwich High School on Friday, then will travel to Wilton on Saturday. They will visit Episcopal Academy on April 17 and will also play Agnes Irwin that same day. Two games against rival Sacred Heart Greenwich and matchups with Darien, Ridgefield and Deerfield are also on GA’s schedule.
“As a team this season, I hope that we are able to pick up where we left off a year ago,” Maruszewski said. “I hope that we’re able learn the things we missed in the past year and do well against the top teams in the area.”
Added Anderson: “Our goals are to recover the confidence and sharp skills that our program is known for and then some. Right now, we are putting all the building blocks back together and by the end of the season, we want everyone to feel all the great things about lacrosse and the program.”