‘They play together’: Teamwork helps Westborough girls lacrosse top rival Algonquin

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‘They play together’: Teamwork helps Westborough girls lacrosse top rival Algonquin
Algonquin’s Abby Roberts tries to get around Westborough’s Kealy Fay. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

NORTHBOROUGH – It was an “all hands on deck” type of afternoon for the Westborough girls lacrosse team.

The Rangers fielded only 13 athletes Saturday afternoon, allowing for just one substitute player. What’s more, Westborough committed five penalties over the course of the game, only worsening the problem for the shorthanded team. To beat Algonquin – Westborough’s longtime rival – the group would need teamwork and exceptional play from just about every area.

That’s exactly what they got. Westborough came together and defeated the home-team Algonquin Titans, 14-9.

“Our girls are really big on doing the right things all the time – they come in tight, they leave tight… They play together every time, and they played together today,” Westborough Head Coach Whitney McKay told the Community Advocate.

‘They play together’: Teamwork helps Westborough girls lacrosse top rival Algonquin
Algonquin’s Annie Harwich (left) and Westborough’s Kenzie Gage battle for the ball. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Rangers defeat Titans

The Rangers were led by Lily Villaflor, who tallied five goals over the course of the game. Villaflor has been at the center of the Westborough offense all year, registering her 100th career goal in an April 13 game against Tyngsborough. Kenzie Gage (2 goals), Taylor Payne (2 goals) and Lucy Petralia (2 goals) were among the seven total Westborough players to score against Algonquin.

“Lily is awesome, vital,” McKay explained, pointing to how Villaflor helps control the game. “I think all our seniors really do a great job of showing that presence, they have that experience that lifts everyone else up. Our seniors bring that presence, including Lily.”

Villaflor attributed the win to Westborough’s teamwork.

“I think it’s just about the little things – we talk about it all the time. It’s the little things. You can see it on the field, we go to everything together. Everything at practice: we do it together. Our dress-up days – everything. It’s the little things, and we talk about it as a team,” she said. “We knew it was going to be really competitive. In any sport we play Algonquin in, it’s always a rivalry. Playing on their new turf was really nice. We just knew we had to come and play as a team.”

While Algonquin – playing in front of fans on the brand-new Algonquin Athletic Complex bleachers for the first time – was ultimately outmatched, the team fought until the very end. After falling behind early, the team seemed to collect itself in the third quarter, finally gaining some momentum against Westborough. Grace Chiota had five Algonquin goals, while Katie Hynes, Bella Roman, Ella Nofsinger and Lauren Staunton each added one goal apiece.

‘They play together’: Teamwork helps Westborough girls lacrosse top rival Algonquin
Westborough celebrates after scoring. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Westborough, ranked 17th in the latest MIAA Division 2 power rankings coming into Saturday’s action, entered the game with a 10-2 record. Algonquin, placed 25th in the same rankings, came to the game at 7-3 riding a four-game winning streak. The rivalry game was high-stakes to begin with, but with the MIAA tournament in the near future, the matchup had also playoff implications.

“We’re hoping to continue to move up in our ranking. Last year we lost to Melrose in the opening round of the playoffs, and I think everyone felt a little salty after that loss. Our goal is, of course, to make it to the playoffs and move even further than that… I think we aren’t ranked as high as we should be,” McKay said after the game.

The Titans will use the hard-fought loss as a learning experience, according to Algonquin Head Coach Emma Davis.

“We’re going to use it to fuel our fire for the rest of the regular season, and hopefully for the playoff run,” she said.

‘They play together’: Teamwork helps Westborough girls lacrosse top rival Algonquin
Algonquin’s Grace Chiota (left) and Bella Roman (right) pose with their 100th goal commemorative balls after the game. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

Milestones for Algonquin

Although Saturday’s game didn’t end as they would have hoped, the Titans have marked several milestones in the last week. On April 30, Chiota, a junior, scored her 100th goal for Algonquin against Leominster. Two days later, Roman, a senior, hit the 100-goal mark, reaching the milestone after Algonquin took down Shrewsbury.

“I think they are the fuel we need. They work well together on the field, off the field. They really run our offense for us,” said Davis.

While Chiota and Roman acknowledged that achieving the milestone was individually meaningful, both athletes attributed their success to their teammates. Lacrosse is a team sport, they said, and they wouldn’t have been able to reach the 100-goal milestone without teamwork and significant contributions from the team’s defense and midfielders.

“I’m so grateful to be a part of a team that really cares about us individually… It’s something that’s really fulfilling, but also makes you feel great about the team as a whole. It’s not just one person putting in the work, it’s everyone working together,” said Roman.

“It’s super rewarding, but I know I wouldn’t be able to get 100 goals without my teammates. I’m proud for everyone,” Chiota added.

‘They play together’: Teamwork helps Westborough girls lacrosse top rival Algonquin
Algonquin celebrates after Katie Hynes’ goal. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

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