Saturday was a day of goodbyes for the Greenwich Academy lacrosse program.
Melissa Anderson, who began her coaching career at Greenwich Academy in 2006 as a varsity assistant, guided the team in her last game as co-head coach when the team played visiting Taft School on Saturday. Anderson, who took over the helm in 2014, is moving to Massachusetts with her family soon and will teach history at The Rivers School in Weston.
Greenwich Academy’s matchup against Taft also marked the final game of the season for the squad, which also bid farewell to its seniors with special Senior Day ceremonies before and after the game. Indeed, the day, which saw Greenwich Academy post an impressive 16-8 victory over Taft, was one Anderson and the program will remember.
Anderson, replaced legendary coach Angela Tammaro, after Tammaro left her coaching positions with the school in 2014, following a career in which she amassed 700 lacrosse victories and 746 field hockey wins.
“Coaching is such an imperfect art in a sense that there’s always more you can do and different ways that you can arrange your priorities,” Anderson said, while reflecting on her GA coaching career after the team’s triumph against Taft. It is the most creative thing that you can do. If care about sports, then trying to coach is amazing and trying to get it right – it just never comes. So I guess that feeling of trying to do more, or trying to do a little bit better, or try a different strategy, is something that I’ve really enjoyed.”
Katie Johnson joined GA’s varsity lacrosse coaching staff several seasons after Anderson arrived and has served as a co-coach for the team with Anderson for numerous years.
“I joined the GA coaching team when Melissa went on maternity leave with her son and it was supposed to be one season and I ended up catching the bug and really enjoyed it,” Johnson said. “They were nice enough to keep me on. “If you can think of a person that combines the competitive nature that you would need to lead a successful team, with a person that understands how culture is built while relating to high school kids – that’s Melissa.”
“She’s very inspirational with how caring she is with all the schools and players,” Johnson continued. “She also brings a lot of institutional knowledge to running a team in terms of how GA would approach every situation and the right thing to do and that’s helped me, because I’ve focused on the mechanical and technical side of the game. I love the game and she’s taught me how to love coaching high school kids.”
Greenwich Academy athletic director Martha Brousseau said Anderson, who served as Associate Dean of Faculty, Director of College Counseling and a history teacher at GA, provided a great example of the school’s theme – toward the building of character.
“How to conduct yourself in this environment, how to ask kids to conduct themselves and that speaks volumes in terms of her character and what she teaches our kids about character in competition,” Brousseau said.
GA honored its seniors on its special Senior Day with heartfelt ceremonies. The seniors on the team featured eight players, who provided plenty to the program. Greenwich Academy’s seniors, who will graduate on Thursday, included Julia Freedman, Georgia Gallagher, Paige Lipman, Margaret Maruszewski, Lila Murray, Alessia Packard, Rachel Rogers and Brecon Welch.
Lipman and Maruszewski each served as co-captains of the squad. Next season, Lipman will play lacrosse at the University of Pennsylvania.
“It is definitely bittersweet, it is sad saying goodbye to coach Anderson, I’m leaving as well,” said Lipman, a midfielder, who also starred on the school’s soccer squad. “They have coached me super well the past four years and I’m so ready to go to Penn and ready to go to the next level with confidence.”
Maruszewski, a midfielder, who also played on GA’s soccer team, will join the lacrosse team at Dartmouth. Greenwich Academy’s leading scorer, Maruszewski always displayed her competitive spirit on the field. She showed that spirit Saturday when despite playing with a sore calf, she managed to tally a game-high four goals in the team’s triumph against Taft.
“Coach Anderson has had an incredible impact on me on and off the field,” Maruszewski said. “She’s guided me in my high school career. Every time I see her in the hallway at school she has a smile on her face and she welcomes me. She’s taught me so much about the game, especially the mental side and I can’t thank her enough for everything.”
Packard, one of the Gators’ reliable and consistent defenders, will take her lacrosse skills to Cornell University. She also played field hockey for GA.
“It’s definitely a sad day, but I also think it’s a celebration for this program and where we’ve come, especially last year not having a season and having a young team this year,” Packard said. “This season really emphasized our growth as a program. Although it’s a sad day and a goodbye, I think it’s the beginning of a new team and program, so I’m super excited to come back and watch them.”
Packard will fondly recall the teamwork the GA squad shared and is looking forward to beginning the next chapter of her lacrosse career.
“Just being in the locker room with the girls, we missed a lot of those bonding moments, because of COVID and not being able to have traditional team dinners, so any moment that we had to connect meant a lot and went a long way,” Packard said. “I am super excited about going to Cornell, I am ready to play at the next level and compete. There’s a lot of great players there, so I’m excited just to be practicing with the next level up. It will a lot of hard work, but I’m super excited.”
Gallagher, who was chosen as GA’s Most Improved Player, will attend Bowdoin College, where she plans to plan both lacrosse and field hockey.
“I’m happy we ended the season with a win, considering it’s been a learning season for our team with a young team,” Gallagher said. “It’s a good day to come out here with all these fans and end it with a win on Senior Day. It is a sad day, but it feels like coach Anderson is graduating with us. She’s a great coach, she is one of those people that’s so kind and compassionate about everything she is doing all the time. Even in your hardest moments, she doesn’t get mad, she keeps her composure. She really sets the tone of how to keep your composure and she really teaches the team what it means to be a GA athlete.”
Murray, who led the team in interceptions, was a mainstay defender for the Gators. She excelled at marking and defending one of the opposition’s main offensive players and clearing/moving the ball up the field. The next stop for Murray is the University of Southern California, where she will play lacrosse.
Rogers, a versatile midfielder, provided a spark for GA throughout her career. Her passing skills, aggressive play and teamwork aided the team in numerous games for several seasons. Though she was sidelined during the lacrosse season with an injury, Freedman provided senior leadership to the team in the spring. Also a standout field hockey player, Freedman will play field hockey at Yale University this fall. She was a member of GA’s 2017 NEPSAC Class A championship field hockey team and its 2019 squad that won the FAA title.
Welch sparked GA at attack, providing key goals during the course of the season. An outstanding squash player, she competed on Greenwich Academy’s perennial powerhouse squash team, which has captured the Division I title at the U.S. High School Team Squash Championships five straight seasons. Welch is headed to Harvard, where she will play squash.
In Saturday’s game against Taft, Maruszewksi scored four goals, junior Maddie Holden tallied twice, junior Taylor Glanville registered two goals and Welch scored twice to pace the Gators. Lipman added a goal, while junior Ellie Burdick, junior Ava Butz, freshman Dylan Casazza, sophomore Sienna Tejpaul and sophomore Mimi Sue Novick each had one goal in the winning effort.
Burdick and Butz registered three draw controls apiece, as did Lipman. Rebecca Arpano completed a strong sophomore year in goal, making five saves, while Murray, Packard and sophomore Ellie Johnson helped pace the team’s stellar defensive play.
Holden scored the game’s first goal, tallying 31 seconds into the opening half. After Taft tied the score at 2-2 on a goal by senior Emma Hentemann, GA scored six of the next eight goals of the half to enter halftime with an 8-4 lead.
Goals by Maruszewski, Burdick, Lipman, Holden and Glanville powered GA’s first-half run, enabling to build a lead. Greenwich Academy finished the season with a record of 6-4.
“It’s surreal, I can’t believe four years have gone by,” Maruszewski said. “I’m sad, we lost a season last year, but this program is amazing and I know they are going to do amazing things in the future and I’m excited to watch them.”
Said Lipman: “It’s hard to leave GA, because GA is my second home and I love it so much, but I know it’s always going to be a part of me and I’m always going to come back to this place.”
Anderson leaves her final season as GA’s coach pleased the team was able to experience a season, after everyone was sidelined in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We started with this blank slate,” she said. “We knew the personnel, but we didn’t know how everyone would reconstitute themselves because of all the challenges. All we wanted to provide this year was an opportunity for the kids to rebuild their confidence and give them a venue where they be fierce and count on something. As a coach, I was trying to make the program better a day at time. The chance to influence the culture over time was important to me. I feel that the girls in our program don’t care as much about their own success as they do for the success of the team and that was special to see.”