RHAM sophomore Grace Schadtle looks to create offensively during the Raptors loss to Newington on April 19.
After graduating a talented senior class last spring, the girls’ lacrosse team at RHAM High School is slowly building chemistry with each passing game.
So far, the team has won a pair of game in their first six contents.
Despite losing to Newington 12-5 on April 19, head coach Lara Juenger liked how her team battled, particularly in the second half.
“We are a really young team, so the girls are stepping up and trying things they didn’t do before. I like our defense. We play good team defense and they are talking,” Juenger said following the game. “[Our players] got a little intimidated early, but that happens because they are young. Newington has great stick handling in front of the cage, but other than that I felt like we were evenly matched.”
Newington’s Morgan Hellman led all scorers with five goals, while Hailey Gaydos scored three times and Giuliana Stolfi added two goals.
After falling behind 5-0 at the half and 7-0 within the first few minutes of the second half, the Raptors went toe-to-toe with the senior-laden Nor'easters for the remaining 23 minutes of action.
Sophomore Maddie Graves scored a pair of goals and junior Diana Zito netted a goal and dished out two helpers to help RHAM’s rally.
Both Graves and Zito were starters last spring, giving the Raptors some experienced offensive firepower.
Junior Ciara Murray broke the ice in the second half, putting the Raptors on the board when she scooped up a loose ball and sprinted down field before scoring. A minute later, sophomore Joelle Goralnik scored after receiving a pinpoint pass from Zito.
Two minutes later, Graves netted her first goal, narrowing the deficit to 7-3 with 18:39 to play in the second half.
Senior Love Lanzuela is the team’s starting goalie for the second consecutive season. After missing the first few games of the season, she is back protecting the net and being a positive influence on the team.
“We’re getting more comfortable with each other,” Lanzuela said of the team’s chemistry. “I feel like the girls rely on me and I try to provide any advice or help in practice, and will do anything for them.”
Juenger praised her senior netminder for her infectious positive attitude, saying, “Her name is absolutely the right name for her. She lifts everyone up and is the heart of the team. She makes everyone’s time here better.”
The coach added that Lanzuela has been instrumental in mentoring sophomore goaltender Taryn Brysgel, who has been thrust into the varsity spotlight for relief duties this spring.
Senior captains Eva Morelli-Wolfe and Sydney Summerer have assumed the on-field leadership roles.
Juenger said Morelli-Wolfe was a starting defender a season ago, but switched to attack this spring to help “balance the field”.
The Raptors opened the season with an impressive 18-6 win over Windsor at RHAM High School on April 5. Two games later, they also earned a road win over a talented Rocky Hill team on April 11.
In the 11-5 win over Rocky Hill, Murray netted four goals and sophomore Grace Schadtle scored twice. Zito, Morelli-Wolfe, Kaylee Macca, Jordan Bonetti, and Nora Walker each added a goal.
Lanzuela and Brysgel combined for a dozen saves at Rocky Hill.
Both coach Juenger and Lanzuela agree that getting the younger players more comfortable on the field and that staying positive is the key to a strong finish to the season.
“We have a team rule; be kind, don’t be nice,” said Juenger. “We want to push each other but that can be intimidating with the young players, so want to be kind.”
After starting the season with a new lineup and several injuries, Juenger looks forward to what the team will look like when they are fully healthy come the second half of the season.
“We graduated a lot of really good seniors, so we have a lot of people that haven't played before,” added Juenger. “We’re just trying to get younger players confident and get more aggressive.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin