Girls Varsity Lacrosse claims first win after tough season

Josh Shuster and Blake Bennett

This Wednesday, the Girls Varsity Lacrosse (GVL) team won their first game of the season 10-7 against Trinity. Before this win, the team lost all ten games that they played during the season. Up by one goal with three minutes left, the team worked together to keep the ball in their possession, allowing them to score two more goals, Vivian Coraci (10) said. “We were all really happy after the game and we were all celebrating together,” she said.

The team fought incredibly hard for all 50 minutes of the game, Girls Varsity Lacrosse Coach Keri Panarelli said. The win was especially exciting because it was on the team’s Senior Day, she said. The Senior Day was the team’s way of honoring the 12th graders who worked hard throughout their four years on the team, she said. “It is the last time they will play a game on four acres, so it [the win] made it more memorable!” 

“Our season has been tough,” team member Scarlett Goldberg (11) said. The game against Riverdale was particularly discouraging, Goldberg said. “We came in determined to win, so the loss hurt even more.” Even so, the team still hustled and worked hard until the end, she said. Lacrosse is a difficult sport that requires a lot of practice, Goldberg said. The team missed the last two spring seasons due to the pandemic, putting it at a disadvantage compared to some other schools, she said.

Unlike many other teams at other schools, the Lions do not have lacrosse practice throughout the entire year, Panarelli said. “We are a team that plays only during the [spring] season, so we are far behind and it makes it difficult to catch up on skills in a short amount of time.”

The team suffered from a lack of substitute players because many members were absent with COVID, Coraci said. As a result, the GVL team began bringing Girls Junior Varsity Lacrosse (GJVL) players with them to games to cheer from the sidelines and act as substitutes, she said. “I think that having a lot of subs and a full bench cheering us on has really helped the team’s morale,” Coraci said.

Although the GJVL team did not have enough players to participate in games this season, they remained very supportive of the Varsity team, Goldberg said. “Moving forward, I really think the underclassmen will improve even more to carry the team to some wins.”

To practice for upcoming games, the team does a basic warm-up, and then reviews strategies for the game, Panarelli said. “We have worked on the basics and have improved on our individual skills, which in turn, has helped us as a team,” she said. For the warm-up, Panarelli likes to keep the team on their feet as much as possible with repetitive exercises, she said. 

Warm-ups usually begin with a lap around the field and stick skills, Jiwan Kim (9) said. Stick skills involve catching and throwing the ball, as well as ball possession and cradling, she said. 

 The team primarily focuses on basic skills like catching, throwing, scoring, and ball possession as well as ground ball drills during practice, Panarelli said. Ground ball drills help the players practice for situations when the ball is not in either team’s possession, Panarelli said. Depending on what the team needs to work on most, she gives them different things to practice.

Drills with ground balls are incredibly important, Coraci said. “Whenever the ball is dropped or checked out of someone’s stick it is basically up for grabs and you have to fight for it, so if you win ground balls you have a huge advantage in terms of possession.”

The team also practices tactical situations, such as seven versus seven player matchups, Coraci said. “In lacrosse there are four attackers, four defenders, and three midfielders, so on any attacking possession there will be seven people on the offensive team and seven people on the defensive team that are allowed to be on the same side of the field as the ball,” she said. These seven versus seven situations mimic real games, Coraci said. Panarelli often has her players practice three versus two situations, which helps strengthen the team’s offensive and defensive skill set, Coraci said. 

During practices, the team also continued working on communication skills in preparation for the game on Wednesday, Kim said. “Having a verbal connection with a teammate during a game allows us to work together well and adjust ourselves to ask for help.”

Like Kim, Goldberg believes that communication is key in lacrosse. “Our open communication about what we want out of the team has been most helpful,” she said.

While communication aided the team in its victory on Wednesday, it was not the driving factor of the win, Coraci said. “We’ve been working really hard in practice and it paid off.”

Practices and games have brought the team closer together, Goldberg said. “I really love the team and have become close with students that I might not have met before the end of high school,” she said. “I have really loved being a part of GVL this year, the coaches, and all my teammates have made it a memorable part of my junior year.”

Kim also thinks that the practices and games strengthened the bond between the players, she said. “Over the course of the season we truly became a team. In the beginning of the year we were individual lacrosse players, and by the end we have learned to have each other’s backs.”