Greenwich High

Greenwich High girls lacrosse team ready for its season of opportunities

Photo by David Fierro: Delaney Roth is one of the senior captains of the Greenwich High School girls lacrosse team. Roth also served as captain of Greenwich’s girls ice hockey team in the winter and the Cardinals’ cross country squad in the fall.

The opportunities are indeed, plentiful, for the members of the Greenwich High School girls lacrosse team, which is eagerly anticipating its season-opener against Staples on Thursday.

Greenwich’s seniors, which did not experience a varsity season as juniors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finally have an opportunity to showcase their skills during their final season with the squad. The Cardinals’ sophomores and juniors have a chance to find their niche in their first year on the team and coach Tara Clough, finally gets to begin her coaching career with the program.

“It’s amazing to be out here, I’m so excited and I’m really happy to be here at Greenwich,” said Clough, who previously coached lacrosse at Sacred Heart Greenwich, where she spent five highly successful seasons. “We have a great group of athletes and a lot of determined and committed players. I’m looking forward to building a championship team. “

Hosting its season-opening game against Staples on Thursday is also an opportunity for the Cardinals, who were supposed to begin its 2021 campaign last week. However, the Greenwich team was in quarantine for 14 days, due to a member of the squad testing positive for COVID-19. The Cards returned to practice on Monday and have quickly prepared to play a strong Staples squad.

“We’re very excited and we’re just itching to play our first game,” said Greenwich senior Grace Collier, one of the team’s four captains. “This is a very young and talented team. It’s going to be a matter of us believing in the young players that we have, because I really think we can be successful this season.”

Photo by David Fierro: Grace Collier, a midfielder, is one of the senior captains of the Greenwich High girls lacrosse team.

Delaney Roth, Hailey Hires and Emma Norton join Collier as captains and are among the handful of GHS players with varsity experience. Roth is accustomed to captaining a team. She served as a captain of the Cardinals’ cross country team in the fall and the ice hockey squad during the winter season.

“I’m super excited to be a captain this year,” said Roth, who will play lacrosse at William and Mary University next season. “I’ve always looked up to the captains we had in the past and I’ve spent four years on this team, so it’s special to be in this spot and help lead the team. We have a super young team, so it’s going to be an important role this season more so than ever.”

Collier will be expected to help anchor the midfield, while Roth will look to spark the squad at attack.

“Grace is a very strong player with a high lacrosse IQ and incredible speed and natural ability,” Clough said. “Delaney is a multi-sport athlete and is very vocal on our team. She has a strong background in the sport and will provide a lot of leadership.”

Norton, a midfielder, is heading to Dickinson College, where she will play lacrosse and Hires, a goalie, will attend the University of Southern California.

“They are also bright, high-energy players,” said Clough, who posted a record of 72-19 during her five seasons at Sacred Heart Greenwich, leading the Tigers to three FAA Tournament championships (2017, 2018, 2019).

Greenwich, which last won the FCIAC Tournament title in 2003 and the CIAC Class LL championship in 2012, hopes to re-establish itself as a perennial contender for both championships.

“I’m excited about the future,” Clough said. “We have a lot of talent and a lot to work with. Our team has a lot of sophomore players that will be on the field and getting reps this spring. It’s an exciting time to be a part of Greenwich High School lacrosse. Attitude, work ethic and commitment is what I value and I am emphasizing this in the Greenwich program.”

Photo by David Fierro: Hailey Hires is one of the Greenwich girls lacrosse team’s senior captains this spring.

Hires said the team is eager to display their potential.

“Especially not having a season last year, we want to come out with a new coach and really show everyone what Greenwich is about,” Hires said. “At the same time, we are trying to keep the traditions to when we were underclassmen alive and work our hardest to build the program back up. We have a really young team, with over 20 new players on varsity, so everyone is really hungry, especially the players who lost their season last year. So I think there are a lot of opportunities for everyone and we just have to capitalize on them.”

Greenwich’s roster includes 13 seniors, 11 sophomores, three juniors and one freshman.

“This is a great opportunity to build teamwork and help these players jell,” Clough said. “I’m impressed with their grit, determination and passion for the game and they are all excited to learn.”

Roth, Collier, sophomore Cecelia Tauber, junior Kaylie Kitselman, sophomore Kaitlin Kelly and freshman Emma Abbazia are among numerous players who could ignite the Cardinals’ offensively.

“Since we have a young team, it will be important for everyone to step up on offense,” Roth said. “One of our big keys on offense this year is for everyone to focus on being a threat with the ball.”

Some of the athletes expected to join Collier at the midfield position are junior Noelle Johnson and sophomore Sophia Neitzell.

“We have a lot of options, we have a quick team, which is good,” Collier said. “I’m looking forward to working with each girl.”

Hires and sophomore Daryl Furno are the goalies, while sophomore Rylan Sepot, Madeline Hoekman (sophomore) and Mary Katherine Savio (sophomore) are among some of the Cards’ defenders.

“I’m excited about being in goal, because I was kind of following Sloane Loveless (2019 graduate who started as Greenwich’s goalie) beforehand and I learned a lot from her. So I’m excited to get out there and lead the defense. The girls are working really well together and It’s interesting to see all this new talent we didn’t know we had.”

Greenwich’s varsity coaching staff includes Shannon Colligan, who was a member of the Cardinals’ 2011 and 2012 Class L state championship teams, Megan Wax and Andrew Norton. Peter Simpson is the junior varsity coach.

“We have a great coaching staff,” Collier said. “They all are so passionate about this team, they care about how we do as players, but also growing us as young women and young leaders in our community.”

After hosting Staples on Thursday, Greenwich visits New Canaan on Saturday, so it must be primed to meet its challenges from the season’s start.

“Our biggest things that we talked about are playing for each other, giving 110 percent, having the best stick work out there and being in the best shape,” Roth said. “If we do that and play for each other we will have a very successful season.”

Said Hires: “I want to see us make it as far as we can in the postseason. Winning is the goal, but creating a culture of hard work and the right mindset is very important. Creating a program for the future of Greenwich lacrosse is probably our main priority.”

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