This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.07/01/2022 12:00 AM
The Old Saybrook girls’ lacrosse team established itself as the top squad in the Shoreline Conference with a talented core of seniors leading the way in 2022. The Rams showcased their skills and dedication to the game on the league’s biggest stage by winning the program’s first conference title since 2015 this spring. Old Saybrook wound up advancing to the semifinals of the Class S State Tournament to finish with 19 victories in a special sendoff season for its seniors.
Old Saybrook’s victory over North Branford in the Shoreline final was amazing moment for the Rams in a campaign that featured a multitude of highlights. Senior captains Lily Cody, Sam Wakelee, and Grace Adams proved major difference-makers for Old Saybrook throughout the club’s championship run. Head Coach Dick Shriver couldn’t have felt prouder of his team after the Rams defeated a formidable North Branford squad with the conference title on the line.
“It’s the first banner that will go up in the high school gym since 2015 for girls’ lacrosse. It’s a great achievement for the team,” Shriver said. “For Old Saybrook to show up that way, you know they earned it.”
The top-seeded Rams had advanced to the Shoreline title game with a 16-4 semifinal victory against Haddam-Killingworth. Cody scored 5 goals and collected 2 assists for Old Saybrook, while senior Chelsea Heinke and freshmen Gretchen Kawecki netted 4 and 3 goals, respectively. The blowout win propelled the Rams to the league final for the third-straight season to take on a North Branford team that they had lost to in 2019 and 2021.
With an intense effort in the final stretch of the game, Old Saybrook claimed a 14-12 victory over No. 3 seed North Branford to bring home the Shoreline Conference title. The game was tied 10-10 with 8 minutes remaining before the Rams scored 3-straight goals to take control of the contest.
Kaweicki had 4 goals with 3 assists, and Heinke also scored 4 goals to lead Old Saybrook’s offense. Cody and sophomore Amelia Sigersmith scored 2 goals apiece for the Rams, who saw senior captain goalkeeper Sam Wakelee make 22 saves in net. Old Saybrook’s historic win in a back-and-forth battle demonstrated just how far the Rams had come since the beginning of the season.
“Every starting player, from day one to the end of the season, improved materially,” said Coach Shriver. “Every team improves as the season goes on, but here’s a case where every player improves and the team, under the leadership of the three captains, improved steadily throughout the season. They didn’t have a setback.”
Old Saybrook displayed a no-quit attitude throughout the regular season and then rode its momentum into the postseason. The Rams won several games by lopsided margins in which they essentially turned in a flawless performance. Old Saybrook also played at its best in some closer matchups that made its players raise their game to another level. In the end, Coach Shriver saw how extraordinary his team was this year.
“We won a few games by a significant margin, because the girls just didn’t make mistakes,” Shriver said. “One game, I thought it was the best game I’ve ever seen a team play in terms of the minimum mistakes and maximum advantage of opportunities. A team that could hold up five times in a row against opponents in the five toughest games of the season, that was where we began to think there’s something special about this team.”
Old Saybrook took an 8-game win streak into the playoffs after completing its regular season with a record of 15-1. The Rams’ lone defeat of the regular season came against Valley Regional on April 26, but Coach Shriver’s club was able to build off of that loss and become an even more cohesive unit as a result.
“They were supportive of each other more so than average. If somebody makes a mistake, you say, ‘Forget it. Get over it,’ and get back in the game,” said Shriver. “They were supportive of each other when they made mistakes. When a team gets its act together and makes fewer mistakes, they’re going to have a good season.”
On the heels of winning the Shoreline title, Old Saybrook notched two victories in the Class S State Tournament to advance to the semifinal round. The 2nd-seeded Rams earned a 17-7 win versus Haddam-Killingworth in the first round, led by 6 goals from Cody and 5 goals by Kawecki. Old Saybrook then faced No. 7 North Branford in the quarterfinals and defeated the T-Birds by a 15-13 score, marking the team’s fourth win against North Branford on the year. Cody scored 4 goals, while Heinke netted 3 goals in the victory.
Old Saybrook went on to take a 9-8 loss to No. 14 seed Lauralton Hall in the semifinals of the Class S draw. The Rams were down 6-1 at halftime and, despite a valiant effort to come back, came up on the short end of a one-goal decision to finish the season with an overall record of 19-2.
“They might have been a little tired mentally after the North Branford game,” Coach Shriver said. “If so, it’s understandable.”
In the process of claiming a Shoreline Conference crown, several of Old Saybrook’s players earned recognition at both the league and state levels for their performances during the 2022 season. Senior captain Cody capped off her Rams’ career by garnering All-Shoreline Conference First Team and All-State First Team honors this year. Cody posted 100 goals and 28 assists on the season, reaching the 200-goal milestone for her career along the way.
Fellow senior captain Wakelee, who made 256 saves this season, was also an All-Shoreline Conference First Team honoree for Old Saybrook. Senior Alexa Coty also played her way to a spot on the All-Shoreline Conference First Team.
Kawecki earned All-Shoreline Conference Second Team accolades after scoring 70 goals and dishing out 34 assists in her freshman campaign. Senior Lilly Sigersmith was also an All-Shoreline Conference Second Team selection.
Heinke was presented with All-Shoreline Conference Honorable Mention on the strength a stellar senior season. Heinke scored 53 goals for Old Saybrook this year.
With so many strong goal-scorers up and down the field, Coach Shriver also takes great pride in his team’s defense. While defenders don’t earn a ton of recognition on the scoresheet, Shriver knows that those players had a major impact on Old Saybrook’s success. Looking ahead to next season, Shriver will have to think about how the Rams are going to replace a collection of senior veterans who will be sorely missed.
“I would say the biggest loss will be on defense, so we’ll have to figure out how to build a new defense. Maybe some positions will be shifted around,” said Shriver. “It took 15 games for us to settle on a starting team this year, and I think it will be just as hard next year to figure out what’s the best team.”
Old Saybrook will have some big shoes to fill with the departure of 10 seniors from this season’s team. In addition to the captains Cody, Wakelee, and Adams, the Rams’ senior class featured Coty, Heinke, and Lilly Sigersmith, along with Lorea Aramendi, Sophia Gormley, Emerson Cook, and Caroline Ringer. Coach Shriver is going to miss working with an incredible group of seniors who’ve created a legacy with Old Saybrook girls’ lacrosse program over the past four years. However, despite losing a ton of firepower, Shriver is excited for the opportunity to continue building on that legacy when the Rams hit the field again in 2023.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll have a good team next year,” Shriver said. “It will be tough to equal this season, because it was just extraordinary but I wouldn’t call next year a building season. We’ll come out strong at the beginning and get better as we go.”
The Old Saybrook girls’ lacrosse team’s roster for the 2022 season included senior captains Lily Cody, Sam Wakelee, and Grace Adams; seniors Lorea Aramendi, Sophia Gormley, Lilly Sigersmith, Alexa Coty, Emerson Cook, Chelsea Heinke, and Caroline Ringer; juniors Magdalena Ashe, Juliette Condulis, Maddie Beaudoin, and Weston Richards; sophomore Amelia Sigersmith; and freshmen Gretchen Kawecki, Sydney Webb, Ayla D’Anna, Brooke Webb, Grace Desmond, Cali Morelli, Lila Cadley, and Shea Zundel.