¡¡¡¡Coach Pat Van Cott said he had no idea what he had in store for him with the girls¡¯ lacrosse season kicked off in early May.
¡¡¡¡The Lions lost their opener in a squeaker to Cape Cod Academy, 15-14, and they haven¡¯t lost since.
¡¡¡¡On Monday, they continued their current nine-game winning streak, beating Monomoy 11-9 to clinch the school¡¯s first-ever outright Cape and Island League title.
¡¡¡¡¡°We talk about it every single day about what a surprise this season was, because we graduated so many good players,¡± said Van Cott, who reflected on the last season of lacrosse in 2019. ¡°We didn¡¯t have one powerhouse player, we had seven really good players.¡±
¡¡¡¡However, this season they have many powerhouse players, and they¡¯re all very young.
¡¡¡¡¡°We have so much young talent,¡± he enthused, ¡°and at one point this season, we had 11?girls on the field and the oldest one out there was a sophomore.¡±
¡¡¡¡Youthful firepower is the watchword this season as the offense has been led by freshman Ella Bartolomei with an eye-popping 73 goals and 13 assists in the nine games played.
¡¡¡¡¡°It¡¯s really been a team effort and we¡¯ve really picked up the pace since the beginning of the season,¡± said Bartolomei. ¡°We¡¯ve done so much better than expected and being such a small school, we have gotten to know each other so much better through playing other sports together.¡±
¡¡¡¡Sophomore Hadley Crosby has put up some impressive numbers in her own right with 44 goals including a pair of last-second tallies that have propelled the winning streak.
¡¡¡¡First came the overtime goal to beat Sturgis 14-13, and then she fired home the game-winner with three seconds left in the game to avenge the earlier loss to Cape Cod Academy, 13-12.
¡¡¡¡¡°I took it behind the crease, and I could hear everybody counting down (the seconds),¡± Crosby recalled of the game with the Seahawks. ¡°I saw my chance because my sister Tilly was defending me, and I saw that she left room above the crease so I shot it in and we won.¡±
¡¡¡¡Hadley¡¯s game-winning goal didn¡¯t set too well with her sister Tilly, who is a defender on the Cape Cod Academy team, but a win is a win.
¡¡¡¡Standing tall in the goal cage is freshman goalie Flynn Kayajan, who has impressed Van Cott by her outstanding net minding this season.
¡¡¡¡¡°Flynn has been recording double-digit saves,¡± he said. ¡°She¡¯s stopping penalty shots against some of the better players in the league.¡±
¡¡¡¡Captains Lucy Barker, a junior, and senior Julianne Maurice have been among the unsung heroes on this team.
¡¡¡¡¡°We¡¯ve all worked really hard and as the season progressed, we began to see our strengths,¡± said Barker. ¡°Now we play really well as a team.¡±
¡¡¡¡Maurice has also enjoyed the strides made by the team.
¡¡¡¡¡°We have a lot of very talented young players and very few upperclassmen,¡± she said. ¡°As the season went on, we were surprised to see how well we¡¯ve been doing.¡±
¡¡¡¡?Seniors Delaney Burrell, Meah Dalrymple, Sophie Anastos and Ashlin Enright have all provided varsity experience with the squad.
¡¡¡¡Olivia Powers and Ella Sassone are each scoring double-digits in goals, while Sophie Philbrick and Brooke Wright have also added goals.
¡¡¡¡¡°We were five or six practices in and then we had our only loss, and we just were not prepared,¡± said Van Cott, who is joined by longtime assistant Russ Tierney and newcomer Chris Bartolomei. ¡°We learned so much from (the loss). It was a great learning experience.¡±
¡¡¡¡Other members of the team include Maggie Crofford, Mia Curley, Alanna Dailey, Riely Dillon, Aniela Gallagher, Kylie Haywood, Ava Item, Keira Nackachi and Sophie Stanley.
¡¡¡¡Following the final regular season win, the Lions will now move on to the South Sectional playoffs for the fourth season in a row, taking into consideration that there were no playoffs last spring.
¡¡¡¡In 2017, St. John Paul II captured its first-ever playoff victory beating Pembroke 24-13, before losing in the next round to Norwell. In 2018, it was once again Norwell that stopped the Lions in the first round. Then in 2019, JPII beat Sacred Heart 18-4, only to lose in the next round ¨C once again to Norwell in the second round.
¡¡¡¡Reach out to Mike Richard by emailing him at: firstname.lastname@example.org