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Article Published May 22, 2019
Warriors Notch a Big Victory in Postseason Push
Chris Negrini, Assistant Sports Editor

The Valley Regional girls’ lacrosse team is making one final push to reach the Class S State Tournament after picking up a win against Haddam-Killingworth last week. The Warriors record bumped up to 6-9 on the season, and with just one game left, they’re looking for one final victory. First year Head Coach Randy Netsch and his squad are trying to piece it all together this season after turning in a 9-9 mark in 2018.

This season has proven challenging for the Warriors as they try to develop a young team into a perennial contender. There are only two seniors on the team in captain Allie Ruel and goal keeper Mia Cost. At the beginning of the season, Valley was still a work in progress and now, the Warriors are starting to find their way.

“We had a tough start to the schedule playing some tough Class M schools, and we were trying to find our offensive and defensive makeups,” said Coach Netsch. “We’re looking better. I knew it was going to be a struggle having a young team. We graduated three of our strongest defensive players, but we’re feeling more comfortable having the players in the positions that they’re in.”

On May 14, the Warriors emphasized their upward trajectory with a big 20-8 victory against Haddam-Killingworth. Valley got out to a large lead at the half at 12-6 and then stifled the Cougars on defense in the second half to reach the 20-8 final.

Ruel provided seven goals to go along with a pair of assists in the win, while freshman Emmi Bisson added three goals and one assist. Freshman Taryn Frazier scored three goals, as did fellow freshman Margaret Jacarusso. Junior captain Celia Ghilani scored two goals, while junior Madden Riley and freshman Salmi Miller had a goal apiece.

Ruel has loomed large in every contest the Warriors have played this year, win or lose. As a matter of fact, the recent success Valley has seen in the girls’ lacrosse program is a direct result of the senior captain first joining the team her freshman season according to Coach Netsch.

“Allie’s probably the first player to come to Valley with a high-level skill set. In the past, it was seldom that we would get a player with experience. When she came along she brought the program to the next level,” said Netsch. “She’s been great with the younger players and tries to encourage them during JV games. We have some freshman playing varsity because we’re young overall, and she really helps talking to them on the field. She’s a great asset for us.”

Valley also has two junior captains on the team in Ghilani and Elena Peterlik who are both in their second year wearing the captain’s hat. Ghilani roams the midfield, while Peterlik is a staunch defender who excels at getting to balls.

“Celia and Elena were both named captains as sophomores. We saw something in these two. We thought they could be assets, both last year and this year. They work really hard building the team with captain’s practices and other work in the summer,” said Netsch. “Celia great at controlling draws and is shooting 50 percent right now. Elena is very fast and quick to the ball, so she’s good at defending fast attackers.”

While the veteran presence on the Warriors had proven a big boon, several freshman have logged meaningful minutes for Valley. On attack, the Warriors would normally depend on sophomore Tory Rider, who had an outstanding year last season as a freshman, but she’s been limited by injuries this campaign. So now players like attackers Miller and Frazier, as well as Jacarusso in the midfield are doing their best to pick up the scoring slack.

“Taryn’s very fast, and she’s skilled with the stick. It helps that she has some experience under her belt. Margaret is like Taryn with her speed and ability to score, but she’s really more of a defensive player in the midfield with great ground ball control,” Netsch said. “Salmi’s tall, and she’s good at posting up in front of the goal. She’s picking up the game. We have this slew of freshmen, and with some more experience, we’ll have a really good team in the years coming.”

Another big contributor this season has been senior goalie Mia Cost, who had never played lacrosse until last season. Now with another year under her belt, she’s even more comfortable in the cage.

“Mia’s a four-year field hockey goalie. She came over to us because she knew that we needed a goalie,” said Natsch. “She came along and never played lacrosse as a goalie. She’s really stepped up for us last year, and she’s been huge for us.”

With just a single home game left against Fitch, Coach Netsch hopes his team can turn in another solid effort to keep up with the Shoreline’s top competitors. Just because the Warriors took a little while to get going, doesn’t mean they can’t make up for it in the postseason.

“We’re on a bit of a rebuilding path, but if you compare us to other Class S schools around the region we’re right there tied for fourth place with Morgan in the Shoreline if we get the win,” Coach Netsch said. “Every game is a little different. You don’t know what’s going to happen on a given day.”

• The Valley Regional girls’ lacrosse roster includes senior captain Allie Ruel, fellow senior Mia Cost; junior captains Celia Ghilani and Elena Peterlik; juniors Maeve Collins and Madden Riley; sophomores Libby Cap, Hanley Ferrucci, Abigail Shakun, and Tory Rider; and freshmen Emi Bisson, Sarah Cole, Taryn Frazier, Grace Haskins, Margaret Jacarusso, Sage Lepore, Salmi Miller, and Madison Nevaiser.

• Head Coach Randy Netsch is in his first season at the helm of the Valley girls’ lacrosse team. Coach Jim O’Brien is his assistant coach.

• The Warriors’ wins the season have come against Morgan (16-10), Haddam-Killingworth (23-17 and 20-8), Holy Cross (18-5), Suffield (14-10), and Lauralton Hall (13-12).