Senior Sam Forrest battles Cheshire's defenders during the Guardians tournament game last Monday
Quitting was never an option for the girls’ lacrosse team at Glastonbury High.
The gritty Guardians fought until the bitter end, nearly erasing a four-goal deficit by scoring three goals in the final two minutes, before falling to Cheshire 12-11 in the opening round of the Class L tournament last Monday night at GHS.
“You can fold or you can fight, and they fought. You can’t ask much more than that,” GHS head coach Kris Cofiell said following the elimination loss, “I think that everybody on the field played for the seniors, and I think the seniors played for their team. They saw it slipping away and they fought. I’m proud of them for that.”
Cofiell’s girls left it all on the field during the tightly contested postseason bout.
Sam Forrest led the offensive charge with six goals, including three goals and an assist in the first 20 minutes of the game. Her third goal, a sidearm flick to the lower right corner of the goal, put the home team up 4-1 with 9:01 left in the first half.
The visiting Rams rallied with four straight goals, taking a one-point lead into the break.
“When we played them the first time we were up at half and they came out and they were super strong coming out of the gate, and we were playing chase the rest of the game last time,” said Cofiell, referencing a 14-9 loss to Cheshire on May 6, “This one was exciting because it was back-and-forth and you knew it was going to be a game of who possessed it more and took advantage of those opportunities.”
Contrary to the regular season game, it was the Guardians who came out on fire in the second half, scoring three goals within the first seven minutes.
The first from Bella Acosta, who rebounded her own miss and fired in a close-range goal. Less than a minute later, Christina Guanci spun around a defender before finding the back of the net to regain the lead. Acosta added a wrap-around goal, putting Glastonbury up 7-5 with 18:15 to play.
Oner the next 17 minutes, Cheshire scored seven of the next eight. Senior Taylor Warburton’s team-leading fourth goal provided the Rams a 12-8 cushion in the closing minutes.
“Sometimes games are won and lost on heart, and we had moments of time when we got in our heads too much. We were defeating ourselves at times, but then the end we pulled it together, we made it exciting.” recalled Cofiell.
Facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit, Glastonbury did not go quietly into the night as Forrest tallied two quick goals, scoring at the 1:15 mark and again with 35 seconds remaining.
20 second later, Joelle Solecki scored, narrowing the margin to a single score.
Mary Norman won the ensuing faceoff and Forrest gained control, weaving her way towards the goal before feeding it back to Norman, who was swarmed by defenders and unable to get a shot off before the horn sounded.
The closing seconds showcased how tight the tournament game was.
“We had a chance to come up with some turnovers those last four minutes and [Cheshire] came up with the possessions,” recalled Cofiell, who credited the opponent, “They’re a great team. They hustle, they work hard.”
The loss ended another successful season for the lacrosse program, which won 13 of 16 regular season games and capturing the conference crown for the 13th consecutive season.
It was the final high school season for five seniors; Forrest, Acosta, Solecki, Norman, and Leah Suydam, who Cofiell credited for being the “heart and soul” of the defense.
Cofiell praised the five, pointing out their individual prowess and how well they worked together, “They all have their own roles and they filled it. That’s why we named them all captains. Without one, we are not who we are. With all five, we’re strong and we work hard until the end.”
Even in defeat, the seniors continued to lead. As the team exited the turf at GHS for one last time, Forrest consoled freshman Stephanie Koppy before the team enjoyed a finale team meeting, in which Cofiell tearfully expressed how proud she was of her team.
All told, Forrest led the team with 74 goals this season, also finishing tied for second on the team in assists (26) with junior Mary McKiernan. Guanci led the team in helpers with 31, adding 36 goals, while Solecki (33 goals/16 assists) and Acosta (20 goals/25 assists) rounded out a potent offense.
Seniors Joelle Solecki, Bella Acosta, Sam Forrest, Mary Norman, and Leah Suydam vs Cheshire
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin