Greenwich Academy

Greenwich Academy Varsity A lacrosse team primed for another successful spring

Photo by David Fierro: From left to right: Ellie Burdick, Rebecca Arpano and Ellie Johnson are senior captains of the Greenwich Academy lacrosse team. The trio will each play lacrosse next season in college at the Division I level.

Skilled and experienced at each position, the Greenwich Academy Varsity A lacrosse team is more than ready to continue the program’s winning legacy.

“We’re playing great, we had a really positive preseason,” Greenwich Academy co-head coach Halley Quillinan Griggs said. “We have a great senior class and they’re hungry to come out here and work hard every day. We went to Florida for our spring break, where we had some opportunities to break some concepts down and work on some things offensively and defensively. So, we’re ready and excited for the season.”

Like last season, Greenwich Academy will face a challenging schedule, featuring some of the premier, highly ranked teams in the nation. The Gators hosted a scrimmage game against Darien High School on Wednesday in preparation for the season. Darien is ranked No. 1 in Nike/USA Lacrosse National Girls High School Top 25 preseason poll.

“They’re definitely a great team to compete against early in the season,” GA senior goalie Rebecca Arpano said. “The first half we were settling in. It was a great all-around effort for everyone.”

Photo by David Fierro: Ellie Johnson sprints down the sideline with the ball during Greenwich Academy’s scrimmage game against visiting Darien on March 29, 2023, in Greenwich.

Arpano, midfielder Ellie Burdick and defender Ellie Johnson are the Gators’ senior captains. The trio have been members of the Gators’ Varsity A squad since their freshman year and will be relied upon for leadership and production throughout the season.

Greenwich Academy’s season starts tomorrow (April 1) at the Spring Fling tournament at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. GA plays national powers Georgetown Visitation (ranked 16th in the country) and Loyola Academy.

“We had a great preseason, our team culture going into it is amazing,” said Burdick, who will play lacrosse next season at Dartmouth. “We have lot of great chemistry and we’re having a lot of fun off the field as well. Our team is making really great connections.”

Burdick also served as a captain of GA’s soccer and basketball teams, while Johnson, was also a captain of the field hockey and basketball squads.

Photo by David Fierro: From left to right: Ellie Burdick, Rebecca Arpano and Ellie Johnson are senior captains of the Greenwich Academy lacrosse team. They will be relied upon throughout the season for leadership and production.

“Everyone is so supportive of each other and getting better every day,” said Johnson, who is headed to Stanford University, where she will continue her lacrosse career. “We’ve seen such a big improvement from the beginning of the season.”

Co-head coach Katie Johnson reflected on the impact the captains are having on the team.

“The three captains are very well known to each other,” Katie Johnson said. “They’ve worked as a unit on club teams for five or six years. They span the entire field from goal to the offensive end. We have leaders on all corners of the field for us. The team admires their work ethic, their selflessness. So far, they are right up there with the best leaders we’ve had in the program. They’ve hung steadfast through the COVID years and now they are enjoying the fruits of their labor.”

Arpano, who will play lacrosse at Harvard next season, gives Greenwich Academy a starting goalie who has competed in high pressure games against formidable foes for several seasons.

“I’m really excited to be one of the leaders this year, we have such a great squad,” Arpano noted. “All over the field, everyone’s been working really hard. We’ve been doing a lot of offense and defense in practice and it really shows when we have tough games.”

Photo by David Fierro: Dylan Casazza, left, and Mimi Sue Novak (No. 22) battle for the ball against Darien on March 29, 2023.

Joining the team as a goalie is Lily Lyons, a freshman. Lyons has impressed the squad with her speed, as Griggs noted she ran the fastest time in the mile during the preseason. On defense, Johnson returns to anchor the unit that includes junior Brooke Bertrand, also an experienced athlete, sophomore Lila Cabot, sophomore Lila Volpe, senior Sienna Tejpaul (who will play field hockey at Yale) and sophomore Ruby Montanez.

“The defense is a big strength,” Ellie Johnson said. “We work really well together. We are a unit, as opposed to four individual players out there together.”

Burdick, junior Molly Moore and junior Amelia Lewis are among some of GA’s returning midfielders.

“On midfield, it all starts from the draw circle,” Burdick noted. “We have many girls who are great at the draw.”

Greenwich Academy’s lacrosse team gathers around coaches Katie Johnson, left, and Halley Quillinan Griggs, middle, after a scrimmage against visiting Darien High School on March 29, 2023.

Junior Dylan Casazza, senior Kate Haffenreffer (headed to Vanderbilt University to play lacrosse), senior Mimi Novak (who will play lacrosse at Bucknell) and sophomore Katie Barr should bring plenty of goals to the attack position for the Gators, who play Westminster School on April 10 in their home-opener.

“We want to come out every single game with 100 percent from the first whistle, play together and have each other’s backs,” said Burdick, who also reflected on the time she’s spent with the GA lacrosse program and on the upcoming season.

“I’m really happy to be playing my last senior season with these people before I go off to college,” she said. “It’s a happy and positive environment to be a part of.”

Greenwich Academy faced Darien in a scrimmage game on March 29, 2023.

Chloe Cook, a senior, returns at attack, as does senior Winnie Welch, who is also a midfielder. Caroline Watts is a sophomore midfielder, junior Maya Tillman adds depth on defense and freshman Maggie Whidden joins the GA squad as a midfielder.

“We have a couple of big games coming up in Virginia and I would love to see us go out and compete hard against teams we’re not as familiar with,” Ellie Johnson said.

“I hope that we have a great weekend down in Virginia,” Arpano added. “I am excited to compete against high-level competition.”

Photo by David Fierro: Brooke Bertrand (No. 23) of Greenwich Academy in action against Darien High School.

Greenwich Academy visits Ridgefield on April 13, travels to The Hill School in Pennsylvania on April 15, visits Wilton April 17, then visits neighborhood rival Sacred Heart Greenwich April 26.

The Gators host Holy Child (May 2) and Hotchkiss School (May 13).

“Every year, the competition is high and what we’ve been really happy about is how hard our veterans are pushing themselves and showing the kind of commitment they have to the team and their fitness,” Katie Johnson said. “They are setting the tone for the younger players and the younger players are stepping up.”

Greenwich Academy played Darien recently in a matchup of powerful lacrosse programs.

“One of the hallmarks of our program is that we tell everyone you have to communicate or be a leader on the field,” Quillinan Griggs said. Everyone is equal. The girls believe in themselves and believe in their unit.”

Said Arpano: “The past three years have been amazing, with new girls coming in and old girls going out. I am looking forward to playing at Harvard next year, but I’m excited for one last ride with GA.”

From right to left, Ellie Johnson, Rebecca Arpano and Ellie Burdick will captain the Greenwich Academy lacrosse team.

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