Sacred Heart Greenwich’s 2021 spring lacrosse season ended last month, but the school’s varsity team is receiving some bonus summer action.
The Tigers are among the 39 teams that are competing in the Girls High School National Championship at Farmington Sports Arena (FSA Sports) in Farmington, Conn. The tournament commenced Wednesday and is scheduled to conclude on Friday.
Each team is guaranteed to play four games, with the bracket winners advancing to single-elimination competition. One team will be awarded the National High School Champion on the final day of action. Sacred Heart, which is coming off another successful spring season, registered a record of 1-1 in pool play on Wednesday. The Tigers lost to Canadaigua from the Buffalo area in their opening game of the tournament, 11-6, then rebounded with an impressive performance in a 12-7 win against Taft School in their final game of the day, which saw the players compete in 90-plus degree heat.
“It’s a great opportunity for all the teams here to get to play more games,” Sacred Heart coach Aly Costigan said. “Our season ended a month ago, so it’s also good to see other teams from different areas.”
Costigan liked what she saw from her squad against a strong Canadaigua team.
“They were a great team, they had some good dodgers and finishers,” Costigan said. We came out a little slow, but we did progress throughout the game and got better. We’re excited to play that type of competition.”
Sacred Heart plays twice more on Thursday, which is supposed to be cooler than Wednesday, which saw the temperature reach the upper 90’s. In its second game of the day against Taft, Sacred Heart steadily built a lead after Taft tied the score at 3-3.
Franny O’Brien, a rising senior, gave the Tigers the lead for good at 4-3 with a goal late in the first half. O’Brien was recently selected as an All-America performer by USA Lacrosse.
“I’m super honored and proud to be selected and it’s been a goal of mine for a long time,” O’Brien said of her All-America status. “To have that achievement is rewarding and satisfying for me.”
Sacred Heart extended its lead to 6-3 on tallies from Karina Sethi and Payton Sfreddo. Midfielder Hannah Dempsey, a 2021 graduate, made it 7-3 with a goal in transition. Dempsey, who served as one of the Tigers’ 2021 captains, will soon depart for Bucknell, where she will continue her lacrosse career.
“This tournament gives us the opportunity to play teams that we normally wouldn’t play,” Dempsey said. “Our first game was against a team from upstate New York, which we normally wouldn’t play. Now that COVID has gotten better, we are able to play more teams and have that championship weekend that we normally don’t have. New York State and the public schools have that, so it’s really awesome to be here.”
Rising seniors Dylan Drury and Fiona Lewis also added goals in the second half for Sacred Heart, which exhibited impressive teamwork throughout.
“We definitely progressed as the game went on,” Dempsey said. “We were able to make adjustments, which shows our character as a team.”
Grace Lillis, who will play lacrosse at the University of Pennsylvania, is pleased to compete with her teammates for one final week, before she prepares for college. Lillis, a midfielder who recently graduated, was also one of Sacred Heart’s captains.
“This is a team that’s been such a big part of my life the past four years,” Lillis said. “I love playing with them, no matter where it is. Just one last chance to play with them makes me really happy. I went to Penn camp yesterday to meet all the girls with my class. It makes me super excited about the season.”
Laura O’Connor played effectively in goal for Sacred Heart, which is geared up for its next two games in the tournament.
“It was a good experience for the underclassmen to come to this event, because college coaches get to see them play,” O’Brien said. “It was a good game against Taft, it’s always fun to play them. I’m really pumped for the second day out here. We had a good start, but we’re just going to get better as the tournament goes on.”