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07/13/2022 12:00 AM

Heinke Provides Power for Rams’ Prolific Offense

Chelsea Heinke netted 53 goals as a senior to help the Old Saybrook girls’ lacrosse team claim championship glory this spring, earning All-Shoreline Conference Honorable Mention in the process. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Heinke

The Old Saybrook girls’ lacrosse squad featured many seniors who performed well in team’s biggest moments throughout the 2022 season. One of those seniors was Chelsea Heinke, who played a huge role on offense for the Rams all year long. Chelsea’s contributions helped Old Saybrook win its first Shoreline Conference title since 2015 as the senior attacker capped off her high school career by earning All-Conference honors.

Chelsea was born to be an athlete. She started playing ice hockey at age three and was participating in volleyball, field hockey, and lacrosse by the 5th grade. At a young age, Chelsea began to understand the different components of team sports and what it takes to make a team succeed. These experiences prepared Chelsea for the challenge of competing in high school.

“I feel like with all of these different sports and all different teams, you obviously learn everything new, yet everything’s always the same. Teamwork and bonding are very important,” says Chelsea. “I felt that I definitely wanted to show the last thing that I had with all that I’ve learned heading into the team this year, considering I’ve played sports for forever and that was my last season I got to play a sport for.”

Chelsea attended Mercy High School as a freshman, playing volleyball and lacrosse, before transferring to Old Saybrook for her sophomore year. After her sophomore lacrosse season was canceled, Chelsea was ready to introduce herself to the Rams in a positive way in her junior year. Chelsea wanted to bond with her teammates and form strong connections as she joined a program that has a tradition of success.

“Especially this year, I feel like we were all so very close, and we all did a lot of different things as a team,” Chelsea says. “We all bonded greatly on and off of the field. I feel like it was a really great experience that we didn’t have last year as much.”

With a year of experience with the Rams under her belt, Chelsea became a key cog in Old Saybrook’s offense as a senior. Chelsea and the Rams finished their year with an overall record of 19-2 while claiming the Shoreline Conference title and advancing to the semifinals of the Class S State Tournament.

Chelsea scored 4 goals to help Old Saybrook post a 14-12 victory over North Branford in the Shoreline final. The senior felt happy to contribute to the Rams’ monumental triumph as they defeated a T-Birds’ team that they had lost to in last year’s title game.

“I felt that I played pretty well in that game considering I was very nervous and it was North Branford. They’re equally a great team,” says Chelsea. “I scored a couple of times, and having one of my best friends be the assist for most of my goals, it was obviously so exciting and awesome to have her help me score that goal. The celebration after was so special, because it was our last game as seniors in the Shoreline final.”

The friend that Chelsea is referring to is Grace Adams, who was one of Old Saybrook’s senior captains this year. Chelsea and Adams had excellent chemistry on the offensive side of the field and put plenty of points on the board for the Rams during the 2022 campaign.

“Grace and I work so well on the field together. I always know what she’s going to do, and she always knew what I was going to do. She’d always know where I was on the field and where to pass the ball,” Chelsea says. “She was kind of like a feeder to me. Being open for her, I feel like I was very reliable in being that quick pass open to shoot on the net.”

Head Coach Dick Shriver says that Chelsea’s creativity on offense proved a huge asset to the Rams this season. Coach Shriver felt proud to see Chelsea earn All-Shoreline Conference Honorable Mention after scoring 53 goals throughout the club’s championship run.

“Chelsea has great stickhandling skills close in to the crease. She finds an opening for a pass right on the crease,” says Shriver. “She got better and better at it throughout the season. She’s also very responsive at the goal.”

While she had a fantastic senior season, there were times where Chelsea struggled with her confidence. However, if she ever made a mistake, Chelsea’s teammates always encouraged her to bounce back and stay upbeat. That level of support made a big difference for Chelsea.

“Personally, I feel like I would always maybe bring myself down after I mess up in a game. Especially coming to Old Saybrook compared to other teams, they always tell you to forget about it,” Chelsea says. “Forget about that mistake and brush it off. Sometimes in games, it would get stuck in my head and kind of bring me down, but everyone’s always there to just be like, ‘Just brush it off.’”

Chelsea learned a lot from playing lacrosse at Old Saybrook and was able to give back to the Rams in more ways than just scoring goals. Later this year, Chelsea will be attending Michigan State University, where she hopes to play lacrosse at the club level. As she reflects upon her time with the Rams, Chelsea will always cherish the family atmosphere of the program and knows that the relationships she created with her teammates will last long beyond high school.

“With the team that we’ve had and what Old Saybrook brings in sports, especially lacrosse, we’re all just one big happy family. We all just do our own thing, but the second we get to the lacrosse field, we’re all just talking,” says Chelsea. “We always bond so well. The closeness that the team builds on the field is carried off of the field and even from the seniors before us and the girls still at the school.”