As far as girls lacrosse goes on the North Shore, this spring hasn’t been short on entertainment.
We’re past the midway point of the year and most of the local squads are still in contention for a spot in the MIAA tournament. Of course there are perennial programs that have all but locked up a playoff berth, but a few squads who missed out on postseason action last year have a chance at redemption in the upcoming weeks — so buckle up and get ready.
PINGREE(13-1, 8-0 Eastern Independent League)
After finishing with a spotless league record, the Highlanders have one more regular season tilt before squaring off against Winsor in the EIL championship on Saturday. Second-year head coach Jocelyn Brault-Graham guided her girls to a league title last year as well, but the Pingree program will be aiming for three consecutive banners when they face their familiar foe.
The Highlanders’ greatest asset is a blood-thirsty offensive unit averaging 17.2 goals/game. Senior Erin Jayne has spent the spring torturing defenses by racking up 111 points (70 goals, 41 assists) while her fellow senior teammate Kenzie Vasque has chipped in well with 50 goals and 18 assists.
While Jayne has nearly double the amount of points, Vasque’s impact is also felt throughout any given game as she leads Pingree in caused turnovers (32), draw controls (81) and second in ground balls (20). Her defensive presence has been aided by juniors Caroline Kagan and Elsa Smith along with sophomore Kendall Traveis who has 34 draw controls and 19 caused turnovers.
(11-4, 9-0 Northeastern Conference)
The Magicians stumbled into unfamiliar territory back in April after a double overtime loss put their record at 2-3. However, since the setback the defending NEC champions have been on a scorching sprint toward repeating as league victors.
Marblehead’s program has always boasted a strong offensive unit with an abundance of speed and their 2019 campaign is no exception. Senior captain Grace Arthur has headed their powerful attack with an area-leading 50 assists while fellow captain Lydia Bongiorno has ripped 46 goals into the back of cages. Head coach Annie Madden has always cited their transition speed as a difference maker and midfielders Sarah Campbell and Carter Murray have made good on that assurance.
What’s been different for the Magicians this time around is how vaunted their defense has become. During their current nine-game winning streak Marblehead has only allowed 7.8 goals/game with senior captain Amanda Schillinger, sophomore Josie Poulin and senior Molly Forbes taking their play to the next level. Elizabeth Driscoll has also been one of the best goalies in the North Shore with 103 shots turned away and a save percentage just a tick under .500.
(10-5, 6-3 Cape Ann League)
Defense has not be an issue for the Chieftains this season. In fact they might have the best group of two-way defenders/midfielders in the area. Masconomet has held their opponents to 10 goals or less in all of their victories and in three of their five losses as well.
Morgan Bovardi, Emma Flynn and Liv McCarthy are in the midst of workhorse-like campaigns as all three players have 20-plus goals and 10-plus assists as well. Head coach Alan McCarthy has also praised the play of netminder Haley Stark who has a save percentage of .635%.
“I also think Robyn Seymour, Eva Tveter and Sarah Reblin have been playing great on the defensive side,” said McCarthy. “We also have Marissa DeLucia back there too because we needed an extra body and she’s been playing great as well.”
The Chieftains have had to rely on consistent offensive production from the midfielders with their attack being on the younger side. However, senior captain Taylor Flynn has guided the inexperienced group with 27 goals and will to continue working with her underclassmen attackers as the regular season winds down.
(9-2, 8-0 CAL)
“ALL IN” has been the Tigers’ motto since practice started back in March. It’s a common theme in the sporting world, but teams need to walk the walk in order to talk the talk — and Ipswich has done just that.
Having goal scorers like Haley O’Connor (27-34-61), Annie Gillis (36-20-56) and Hannah Herron (27-6-33) makes any offense lethal, but Ipswich has recently gotten production out of younger players like Cayla Greenleaf who’s scored 15 goals during the Tigers’ current seven game winning streak.
“Our motto shows how we’re trying to run our games this season,” said head coach Kerri O’Connor. “Each player gives it there all from start to finish — all 12 girls on the field being a threat, aggressive and having each other’s backs no matter what.”
Junior goalie Ali Moulton has also been impressive during Ipswich’s stretch of victories with a spotless 7-0 mark in the cage and yielding only 6.2 goals per game. She’ll need to continue to be a brick in net as the Tigers are gearing up for a Saturday CAL title tilt with Manchester-Essex who is averaging 12 goals/game.
(4-7, 1-3 NEC)
The Witches failed to win a single game last spring and now — albeit a long shot — can sneak into the tournament if they continue to play well. Salem’s final seven opponents have a combined 30-42 mark with the Witches already besting three of them earlier in the season.
“I’m really lucky to be working with these girls,” said second-year head coach Katie Wilkins. “They’ve kept a great attitude all season long and always show up to practice and games working as hard as they can.”
Junior Madison White has paced Salem offensively with 26 goals thus far while fellow junior Stella Rowley is close behind with 18 scores. Wilkins has also seen junior goalie Chloe Hnat continue to improve as the spring has progressed.
(6-7, 2-4 NEC)
The Falcons were another squad that missed the playoffs last season but are in prime position to make an appearance this spring. They do have a tough slate of contests coming up with Swampscott, North Reading, Revere and Hamilton-Wenham but head coach Nico Prandi is confident in his group of girls.
“We just need to work on stringing together complete games,” said Prandi. “We are obviously capable of it because we’ve seen them do it a ton of times this year ... it’s just a matter of doing it consistently.”
Danvers has gotten a great rookie year out of freshman Grace Brinkley who’s collected 34 goals and 11 assists. Sophomore Ashley Curcuru has also been stellar offensively with 27 goals and 10 assists while senior captain Grace Leete has commanded the defensive unit with authority.
“Ashley has been getting us plenty of possession from the circle in addition to her offense,” Prandi continued. “And Grace is a senior captain who has been a great leader and is always relentless no matter the score.”
After 16 seasons, longtime Waring head coach Ambrose Devaney stepped down from the position after his squad’s 14-11 loss to Montrose School in the league championship game. The defeat ended Waring’s season at 8-3-1, but Ambrose couldn’t help but express pride of his tenure at the school.
“The girls played so hard like they always do,” said Ambrose. “I’ve loved being here but I think it’s just time — the girls could use some fresh blood in the program so it just sort of feels like the right moment to step down.”
Ambrose also headed the boys basketball program at the school and will be retiring from that post as well. He stated very clearly that he thinks his time as a coach is done, but looks forward to pursuing an interest in sustainability with his wife Mary.
“It’s something I’ve really found fascinating,” he said. “I really can’t wait to spend time with my wife learning more about it and getting to see my grand kids and two dogs more often.”
Quick Sticks Power Rankings
1. Marblehead (11-4)
2. Pingree (13-1)
3. Ipswich (9-2)
4. Swampscott (10-2)
5. Masconomet (10-5)
6. Peabody (9-5)
7. Essex Tech (8-5)
8. Beverly (7-8)
9. Hamilton-Wenham (6-8)
10. Bishop Fenwick (6-7)
11. Danvers (6-7)
12. Salem (4-7)
Quick Sticks is a weekly high school lacrosse column that appears in the Salem News each Thursday during the spring season. Contact staff writer Austin Woolman at Awoolman@salemnews.com and follow him on Twitter @AWoolman_SN.