By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – It was a see-saw battle from start to finish with multiple lead changes, but a late second-half push was what it took for the fifth-seed Shrewsbury High School (SHS) girls’ varsity lacrosse team to slip past visiting twelfth-seed East Longmeadow, 11-9, in a Central / West Division 1 first-round contest May 31. The Colonials next move on to quarterfinal competition with a sense of confidence and momentum at a high point.
“I’m very proud of this team. I think it all started with our senior class and them setting the expectation that they can do this and make Districts and do well,” said head coach Alicia Tinsley, an SHS alum now back in Colonial territory leading the team on which she previously played. “Really it was the captains and the senior class that have been pushing the team to reach their full potential.
“We just came out and tried to play the game we know how to play, play to our strengths right away. A few minutes in, we saw how they played and how we could use our strengths to our advantage but they were a tough team and it was a tough game all the time.”
“I have a lot of pride in this team,” echoed Breana Hogan, who captains the team along with fellow seniors Sydney Murner and Madeline Montague. “We really know how to slow down the ball on attack and just to hold it when we are up a couple of goals so we won’t let the team have possession for too long because that’s when they get their goals. We were very determined to win this game. No one wanted it to be our last game.”
It was a pair of underclassmen cashing in big versus the Spartans. Sophomore Delaney Couture and freshman Colleen McNamara each recorded a hat trick while Montague scored twice in the victory. Couture has racked up 67 points in Mid-Wach A trailing teammate and senior Blair Govoni by six points as team high scorers.
“We’re a team that plays our hardest every single game and we have a lot of heart,” said Montague post-game. “Today was another chance to prove ourselves, another chance to get a big playoff win. It’s really special to see all the people who’ve supported you the past four years and have them finally get to watch you win a District game.”
“I’ve been getting excited like four days before this game and even through all the senior events we had this week I kept telling myself game day is coming,” said a jubilant Sydney Murner. “I just think that the whole team really wanted this. No one wanted this to be our last game so we really brought it. This win really boosted our confidence. We have a really talented team with five freshmen on varsity. Everyone brought their ‘A game.’”
Not having played western-situated East Longmeadow this season and not knowing their style of play meant changes on the fly for Tinsley and company. Keeping ahead of their Spartan opponents meant flexibility, close observation and knowing to adjust when necessary, said coaches and players.
“In practices you focus on drills about things you think are going to happen but when the game starts you see their playing style,” explained Murner. “We took a timeout and talked about it specifically with this team we were really trying to slow down their fast breaks and to slow them down before they get to our defense because that would give them time to set up.”
“We needed to take a couple of timeouts during the game because we really needed to talk about what we needed to improve on,” added Hogan. “We had to focus on what skills we needed to come out stronger on and take control.”
“We talked about possessing the ball on attack,” said Tinsley. “We seemed like we were forcing it a little bit too much and letting it get away. So we talked about playing our game and setting up our plays, slowing down the ball and that seemed to work out for us in the second half.”
For Tinsley, this was a day as special as they come. Although she was Colonials assistant coach for four years, taking the helm is another responsibility altogether and to record a successful 14-6 record eclipses expectations for this talented and age-diverse team.
“This (Shrewsbury victory) means a lot to me,” acknowledged Tinsley. “I’ve always wanted to come back and coach and having the opportunity this year, I really took it seriously and am really proud of how well the team’s doing because they’ve worked really hard. It’s extra special to coach where you played.”
Members of the 2017 Shrewsbury High girls varsity lacrosse team are seniors Blair Govoni, Breana Hogan, Madeline Montague, Sydney Murner, Maria Antonia Silva, Madison Sanborn, Nicole Vandal; juniors Lauren Arpino, Brielle Carelli, Alexandrea Hogan, Kylian Kelly, Lauren King, Samantha Ljunggren, Erin McGinley, Lily McManus; sophomores Delaney Couture, Phoebe Johnson, Lena Karp, Morgan Marcello, as well as freshmen Meghan Bis, Mary Hull, Ashleen Lenti and Colleen McNamara.