by Tom Utescher
The first day of school after spring break ended with the first official lacrosse game for the girls of Germantown Friends. Last Monday the Tigers took an early lead on the road, but then the host Irish of the Academy of Notre Dame, with two Division I signees and two younger DI recruits on the roster, rebounded for a 15-7 victory.
During their spring break, the GFS stickwomen took a trip down south, but were a little short of a full squad for the journey. Although they did not play any games or scrimmages themselves, they were able to observe several collegiate contests.
Seniors and juniors may be a little thin on the ground for the team this spring (with two of the former and five of the latter), but there’s a bumper crop of sophomores and freshmen – a total of 15.
“We have an awesome freshman class, and the sophomores have really developed,” longtime head coach Katie Bergstrom-Mark observed. “I’m super excited about this group.”
Several of the juniors on last year’s team did not re-up this spring, but GFS still has the enthusiastic duo of Livi Pinover and Sophie Smith to help the younger Tigers earn their stripes.
Five returning players who are now juniors are Lindsey Golden, Corin Grady, Riley Knowles, Allie Lipshutz, and Celia Meyer.
Grady is a goalkeeper with good stick handling skills out of the crease, and after last Monday’s game Coach Bergstrom-Mark said, “I really liked how well she was able to see the ball on their shots, especially with the speed Notre Dame has. Considering how fast they are, I think our defense played pretty well. It was a good experience for us because our two teams have totally different styles. They run and they go to goal hard, and we tend to be a little bit more methodical, trying to pick mismatches, isolate, and overload.”
It was the fifth game for Notre Dame, which came in 2-2, while it was the still just the season opener for the Tigers, whose home field hadn’t even been lined yet, according to their coach.
The strong and versatile Meyer, who has already made a verbal commitment to Colgate University, started out taking the draw, but others also got a chance in the center circle.
“We want to work on our draw control, and we’re going to try a number of options that are available to us,” Bergstrom-Mark said.
The returning players now in the 10th grade are Sanaa DeBose, Marlie Golden (Lindsey’s sister), Natalie Harrity, Daisy Lentz, Jane MacRae, Gabby Schwartz, and Zoe Smith. Fellow sophomore Abby Duncan has now joined the varsity, bringing good eye-hand skills from the squash court.
The freshman class is represented by Katie Benoliel, Maribel Carpenter, Maddie Goldsborough, Flora Kerner, Curran McLaughlin, Carlee Nicholl and Lily Seldin.
Bergstrom-Mark is not hesitant in regard to using her young talent; of the four primary defenders, two are freshmen and another is a sophomore.
The Tigers’ mentor mentioned that for the first time she can recall, three of her chief defenders are left-handed (a southpaw doesn’t need to reach across her body to go stick-on-stick against an opponent with a dominant right hand).
In the first six-and-a-half minutes of action at Notre Dame last week, Germantown got out to a 3-1 lead thanks to a pair of goals by Meyer and one by Pinover. The lone marker from the Irish came from senior midfielder Claire Nappi, who will play for the University of North Carolina.
Notre Dame then took control with a 10-0 surge that bridged the two halves of the game. With 14:08 remaining in the second period, the Tigers’ Pinover got the visitors’ side of the scoreboard moving again with her second goal of the day.
“She has improved a lot, and I think she gained a lot of confidence as an athlete from having a very good field hockey season in the fall,” Bergstrom-Mark opined.
With this second strike by the senior as a starting point, GFS essentially played a 4-4 game with the Irish the rest of the way, although the hosts’ lead was not in danger. Smith scored the Tigers’ next two goals, and Meyer then completed a hat trick, pivoting to free herself in front of the Notre Dame cage and depositing Germantown Friends’ final goal of the day.
Nappi scored twice for the victors, who received four goals apiece from McKenzie Irvine (a senior bound for Boston University) and Hannah Gillespie, and two from Kelly Coyle. Grady made nine saves in net for GFS, and the Irish got five stops from Lanzalotti.
Eyeing up the Friends Schools League, where GFS finished in the tournament semifinals in 2016, Bergstrom-Mark said “I think the league will be much more even this year. I think with Friends Central, Shipley, and ourselves, the difference could be how well you play on a given day.”
She noted that like GFS, both 2016 FSL champ Friends Central and runner-up Shipley have strong goalies, with FC starting a senior transfer from Moorestown (N.J.) High School who will play for Division I Stony Brook University.