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05/22/2022 12:00 AM

Huskies Finish Season with Heads Held High

Junior Maeve Madura scored 8 goals and netted the game-winner in OT when the Morgan girls’ lacrosse team claimed an 11-10 overtime victory at Cromwell during the final week of the 2022 season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News

The Morgan girls’ lacrosse team hit the field for the final time in the 2022 season last week. Morgan finished the year with an overall mark of 3-13, but that record doesn’t paint the full picture of the season for the Huskies, whose play as a balanced team consistently improved through the course of a campaign that featured more positives than negatives.

Morgan took losses against Old Saybrook and North Branford during the final week of its season, but also earned an 11-10 overtime victory versus Cromwell in a hard-fought contest. Head Coach Bill Lindsay knew that this would be a challenging season to navigate, but was still pleased with his team’s overall performance.

“Coming into the season, we had graduated three All-State players, including our top-two goal scorers, so we knew that we would have to play tough team defense to be competitive,” Coach Lindsay said. “Our record was not what we had hoped for, but I don’t think it is a reflection of how competitive we were as a team, especially defensively.”

The Huskies’ strong play on the defensive side of the ball was one of many positive takeaways from the campaign. Seniors Julia Tanner and Natalia Comiskey and juniors Iris Durham and Emily Smith formed a steady wall on defense for the team throughout the season. The positive progress of Morgan’s defenders proved a huge benefit to junior captain goalkeeper Marin Stopkoski.

“I think our biggest improvement was our team defense. We had six fewer wins on the season, yet only gave up six more goals,” said Lindsay. “We really made our opponents work hard for their goals.”

Morgan started off last week by taking a 12-6 loss in Old Saybrook on May 17. Junior Brooke Carlisle scored 4 goals for Morgan in the contest. Junior Maeve Madura had 1 goal with 1 assist, senior captain Cailin Steahle scored 1 goal, and sophomore Ashley Reemsnyder had 1 assist. Stopkoski was active throughout the game and made 21 saves for the Huskies, who were able to hold the high-powered Rams scoreless through the first 11 minutes of the game.

The following day, Morgan rebounded by posting an 11-10 win at Cromwell in a game that came down to overtime. Madura’s stick was on fire as the sophomore netted 8 goals in the matchup, including the game-winner during the OT period. Sophomore Ava Schmidt scored 2 goals, Reemsnyder had 1 goal and 1 assist, Carlisle scored a goal, and Steahle chipped in with an assist. Stopkoski came up with 11 saves in net in the winning effort.

Win or lose, Coach Lindsay always feels satisfied with how his team is performing as long as Morgan keeps competing.

“Our consistent message was to keep competing in games, no matter the score,” Coach Lindsay said. “We talked a lot about making the other team earn everything and stringing together little success to create positive momentum.”

The Huskies went on to take a 16-6 home loss to North Branford in their season finale on May 20. Carlisle scored 3 goals for Morgan, while Madura, Schmidt, and sophomore Emma Champagne had 1 goal apiece. Stopkoski made 14 saves.

Despite the loss, Coach Lindsay was pleased with his team’s ability to win draw controls in the game. Madura came up with 5 draw controls, while Carlisle had 4 draw controls for Morgan.

While the Huskies won’t be competing in the playoffs, Coach Lindsay is taking away plenty of positives from the 2022 campaign. The Huskies’ effort on both offense and defense was always apparent, even when the numbers on the scoreboard didn’t go in their favor. Lindsay feels excited about what’s to come for his program next year, when Morgan will be returning a solid crop of experienced athletes.

“Three of our starting attack will be returning next year in sophomores Emma Champagne, Ava Schmidt, and Ashley Reemsnyder. Freshman Cora Dunham is another player who should contribute next year. We just need to figure out her best position,” said Lindsay. “Looking ahead to next year, we have a good core of returning players, including our two top scorers [Madura and Carlisle] and, in my opinion, the best goalie in the conference.”

Morgan made some solid strides on offense and saw many players consistently produce on that end of the field this season. Going forward, Coach Lindsay feels that limiting turnovers is going to be a point of emphasis for the Huskies in 2023.

“The lessons we learned this season were that we need to take better care of the ball and limit our turnovers,” Lindsay said. “In too many games, we would make a stop defensively, but then give the ball right back to the other team.”

Morgan will be biding farewell to a quality cast of seniors that includes captains Alexis Shields and Steahle, along with Tanner, Comiskey, Bryana Bautista, and Rebekah Moro. The dedication and effort of those players means a lot to the program, and they will all be missed. While his team was hoping to post a better record, Coach Lindsay was impressed with how the Huskies hung tough this spring.

“The message to the team at the end of the season is that the coaching staff was proud of how they jelled as a team and continued to improve over the course of the season,” said Lindsay.

In addition to the seniors, the Morgan girls’ lacrosse team’s roster features junior captain Marin Stopkoski; juniors Emily Smith, Brooke Carlisle, and Iris Dunham; sophomores Chloe Jackson, Stephanie Illas, Emely Andino, Ashley Reemsnyder, Maeve Madura, Ariana Salgar, Ava Schmidt, and Emma Champagne; and freshmen Alana Zirlis, Riley Brauchler, Miriam Hussaini, and Cora Dunham.

Junior Brooke Carlisle and the Huskies never backed down throughout a challenging season, making William Lindsay a very proud head coach. File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News