Wednesday was, indeed, a day of celebration for the Sacred Heart Greenwich lacrosse team, which honored it seniors with a special Senior Day ceremony after putting the finishing touch on an undefeated season.
In a game involving two unbeaten teams, Sacred Heart edged visiting Hotchkiss School to accomplish its goal of producing an undefeated spring season.
Junior Karina Sethi recorded a hat trick, while freshman Charley Bacigalupo and junior Kelly Haggerty each tallied twice in Sacred Heart’s well-earned 9-7 Senior Day victory over visiting Hotchkiss.
With the win, the Tigers coached by Sharon Robinson and Jackie Pierce, concluded their 2022 campaign with a record of 9-0-1.
“It’s just unbelievable how much this program means to me and to the team,” Sacred Heart midfielder/co-captain Franny O’Brien said. “You could tell in how we played today. We left it all out there, we don’t get playoffs, so this was our playoffs, this was it – the bid for an undefeated season – and we were able to achieve that.”
O’Brien was one of numerous players that sparked the Tigers to their season-ending triumph. The Notre Dame-bound O’Brien posted one goal, five draw controls and gathered two ground balls in the winning effort.
“We played a full game of lacrosse today and it was amazing to play in and awesome to watch,” said O’Brien, a four-year varsity player.
Hotchkiss entered Wednesday’s showdown with a record of 13-0. The Tigers took a 5-4 lead into halftime.
“There was a lot of anticipation going into this last Hotchkiss game, because they had a similar record to us and they were really strong,” Sacred Heart senior co-captain/defender Lauren Giuriceo said. “But we were able to play some of the best lacrosse we played all season.”
Giuriceo will play lacrosse at Middlebury College next season. Senior Annie O’Connor helped spearhead the team’s strong defensive effort, along with Giuriceo. O’Connor is headed to Brown University, where she will join the lacrosse team.
“It’s been the most amazing four years of my life,” O’Connor said of playing on the team. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team to have an undefeated season with and a better way to end my career, so I’m thankful.”
Sethi and junior Kelly Haggerty scored Sacred Heart’s first two goals and after the Bearcats tied the score at 2-2, Sethi put the home team on top by tallying at the 12:48 mark of the opening half.
Charley Bacigalupo scored off an assist from Haggerty, making it 4-2, then Hotchkiss received goals from senior Ellie Trago and sophomore Etta Coburn to knot the game at 4-4. The Tigers entered halftime ahead by a goal, thanks to an O’Brien goal from close in with just 12.4 seconds left in the first half.
“It was a tough game, Hotchkiss is a talented team,” said Sacred Heart senior Abby Barnett, who added a key goal. “That’s what makes it so fun to play on Senior Day today, because there was great competition.”
The Tigers received outstanding play once again from goalie Laura O’Connor. A junior, O’Connor made seven saves for SHG, which was paced defensively by Giuriceo, Annie O’Connor, junior Maggie Sullivan, junior Corbin Callaway and Olivia Leahy.
“Our defense has played very well all season, Laura O’Connor in goal made some really big saves today and our attacked finished when we needed them to,” coach Robinson said.
Haggerty scored off a strong move toward the goal with 20:29 to go in the second half, then Barnett converted a free position shot, upping Sacred Heart’s lead to 7-4 at the 14:11 mark. Charley Bacigalupo and Sethi had the victors’ final two goals.
In total, the Tigers honored six seniors on the special day.
“This team has been such a special part of my experience at Sacred Heart,” Sacred Heart senior attack Dylan Drury said. “Especially being undefeated this year and defeating teams that we lost to our freshman year and junior year – it showed this team’s potential and improvement.”
“It’s always awesome when the seniors leave the program better than when they found it, so I hope that’s what the underclassmen remember us by,” Drury continued. “It was so much fun, spring is always my favorite time of the year. I also played with my best friends for four years and I’m glad I got to be a part of it for so long.”
Senior goalie Isabelle Berkery spoke of her season on the Sacred Heaert team.
“This is my first year on the team, so I’m happy that I moved up in the program,” Berkery said. “The coaching staff made it one of the better seasons of the four years. The team is super welcoming. They are all the best, hard-working girls I’ve ever met and they dig in every game. That’s how we get the results we want. It was really fun and I’ve loved being here.”
For coach Robinson and Pierce, their first season at the helm was one to remember.
“It was a great first season for us as coaches to have this group of girls and have this group of seniors finish it out like they did.”
The seniors leave the 2022 season and finish their SHG careers with fond memories.
“I’m so grateful for this program, it’s given me so much as a person, as a player and I can’t wait to take everything I learned these past four years to the next level,” O’Brien said.
Said Annie O’Connor: “I learned how to be a good teammate and a good friend. My game has grown so much throughout my four years here. I’ve learned how to listen, I’ve learned how to learn and I’m so grateful for the experience. It’s bittersweet, I’m super excited but I’m sad to leave behind such an amazing team of girls.”
“From playing on the team, I’ve learned how to be a good teammate, how to work hard and how to work for your teammates, whether it’s for playing time or just for improving,” Giuriceo said.
“Senior Day means a lot to the whole team,” Barnett noted. “It’s a little bit bittersweet. We don’t want to have to leave Sacred Heart, it’s such a special school and such a special team and it’s sad to not be able to play with the juniors, sophomores and freshmen again.”
Sacred Heart’s undefeated Varsity A roster included: Charley Bacigalupo, Maggie Bacigalupo, Barnett, Berkery, Callaway, Mackenzie Coleman, Lauren Drummey, Drury, Daphne Fallon, Giuriceo, Haggerty, Maddy Hartnett, Grace Heffernan, Leahy, Ava Lillis, O’Brien, Annie O’Connor, Laura O’Connor, Kaitlin Robinson, Sethi, Payton Sfreddo, Sullivan and Wowie Walker.