by Tom Utescher
Author Henry James once wrote of a sunny, gusty English April, likening its impetuous behavior to “some infant Hercules who wouldn’t be dressed.”
In these parts, the month proved similarly unruly, but last Wednesday afternoon the girls’ grade school lacrosse teams from Norwood Fontbonne Academy and Gwynedd Mercy Elementary not only survived the blustery breezes, but thrived, displaying an exuberance of their own as they pumped in 28 goals between them during this Girls Catholic Academies League contest.
Norwood, which hosted the affair on the grounds of Mount St. Joseph Academy, trailed by as many as six goals, but the Bears rallied in the final minutes to make it a two-goal game at the end, with the Gwynedd Mustangs prevailing, 15-13.
It was the first match of the season for Gwynedd, which experienced some weather-related scheduling problems. Norwood came into the game with an overall record of 1-1, first winning a non-league bout against Germantown Friends and then dropping its GCAL opener to Waldron Mercy.
Gwynedd went right down off the opening draw and scored thanks to Maddie Sandquist, whose older sister Rachel is a swimmer and rower at Mount St. Joe’s. At the outset, neither she nor teammate Courtney Derrah had much difficulty penetrating the Norwood defense, leading the Mustangs out to a 5-1 lead over the first seven minutes. Jacquelyn Nyzio had scored the lone goal for the Bears during that stretch, but the hosts grew more in- sync on the offensive end later on.
After Gwynedd attained its early four-goal lead, Molly Visco scored for NFA, and after a sixth marker for the Mustangs, Norwood’s Aileen Mansfield deposited back-to-back goals. Over the last three minutes of the first half, two strikes by Sandquist were sandwiched around a goal by the Bears’ Olivia Malen, making it 8-5 at the intermission.
Nyzio dashed down to score after controlling the draw that started the second half, and a goal by teammate Sonja Bjornson soon followed, moving the Bears to within one point of the leaders, at 8-7. Gwynedd’s offense revived and widened the gap once more with four consecutive scores. Nyzio put in her third goal for the Bears, but the Mustangs fired in two more to lead 14-8 with a little over 10 minutes remaining.
NFA rallied late, but could not quite catch up. Nyzio and Vicso each scored twice and Mansfield also found the net in a 5-0 run by the hosts. This outburst closed up the score to 14-13, but the final goal of the afternoon belonged to Gwynedd’s Sandquist.
She finished with six goals and Derrah rang up four for the winners, who split time in goal between Olivia Tyrrell (six saves) and Maddie Grass (one save). Norwood keeper Dominique Rice made five stops in the game.