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Senior Cameron Ruberti, a Second Team All-SCC selection in 2015, and Hand girls’ lacrosse are ready to build upon a tremendous campaign that saw the Tigers win their first SCC crown in five years and reach the program’s second state final. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo )
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On the heels of a historic postseason, the Hand girls’ lacrosse squad is out to maintain its championship tradition as a heavy favorite to win another conference crown and a top contender for a state title.
Head Coach Kevin Siedlecki and the Tigers are back following a 2015 campaign that saw them claim the SCC championship for the first time since 2010. Then as the No. 2 seed in the Class M State Tournament, Hand reached its second state final in program history and its first since 2011. Coach Siedlecki explained that for the victories and playoff pushes to persist, it’s about replicating the hustle that sent the Tigers deep into those two postseason dances.
“We certainly want to win the SCC again. It’s a great conference with great competition. We also have some great Class M competition within it to help us get ready for states,” said Siedlecki, who’s in his eighth season at the helm and will be assisted by Jill Gerzebek (varsity assistant coach), Lindsey Carroll (JV coach), Amy Zupan (freshman coach), Lizzie Davidson (volunteer coach), and Gretchen Montgomery (volunteer). “We want a similar year to last season in terms of the culture with the kids working hard and buying into what we are telling them. We want to keep getting better every day and stay focused.”
Leading the charge as senior captains for the Tigers will be utility standout Cameron Ruberti, who was Second Team All-SCC with 27 goals and 33 assists last spring; and defender Annie Hesse, who made Second Team All-State and First Team All-SCC. Both girls pose great threats to their opponents on each side of the ball.
“Cameron has played attack, she will play some midfield, and she is a strong defender. She is a full-field player. She was the point guard of our offense last year and she’s worked on her shot, along with developing a couple dynamic moves,” Siedlecki said. “Annie is phenomenal. She could run the whole field, but she is such a strong presence on defense.”
Backing up that tandem on offense will be senior and 2015 Academic All-American selection Katharine Garnett, who netted 21 goals with 10 helpers last year; along with juniors Amanda Gentile and Callie Jenkins; plus a strong sophomore quartet in Riley Kokoruda, Taylor Scully, Glenna-Kate Gies, and Dory Howard.
“Katharine is taking great shots and knows how to use her size well. Amanda has been working on getting herself in the best spot to make plays,” said Siedlecki. “Claire has a great, powerful, and well-played shot and is really quick. Riley is one of the best kids I’ve seen with both hands. Taylor has grown in her awareness of the field. We will have a bunch of regular scorers this year, I feel. The girls love to open scoring opportunities for each other. They are an unbelievably unselfish group.”
Defensively, Hand deploys some stalwarts in juniors Reilly Thornbury and Caroline O’Neil, sophomore Emma Valdez, plus junior Caitlyn Harvey inside the cage.
“Emma has the potential to be a Division I kid,” Siedlecki said. “Caroline is one of the fastest kids around and is a great defender. Also as a midfielder, she is great at slowing down opponent’s fast breaks.”
Hand, which opened its regular season with a 10-3 victory over Simsbury on April 9, will battle a trio of usual suspects who are looking to knock the Tigers off their SCC throne in Cheshire, Branford, and Guilford. Out of conference, the Tigers face stern tests in Glastonbury and Greenwich. Coach Siedlecki knows that it’s all about getting his team battle-tested for the big stage as Hand will try to repeat as SCC champs and then chase down a state title.
“Cheshire is young with a lot of strength. Guilford graduated some kids; they have strong returning pieces. Branford has a good group of kids, plus Lauralton Hall has a couple of young kids that are good,” Siedlecki said. “Greenwich is a powerhouse and we are back to our annual game with them. Them and Glastonbury are two good games in terms of seeing where we stand and viewing our weaknesses. Overall, we want the league [title] and to cause some damage in states.”
2016 Hand Tigers Girls’ Lacrosse Schedule
April 9: Hand 10, Simsbury 3
Tuesday, April 12: at Old Lyme at 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 14: at Hall at 6 p.m.
Friday, April 15: vs. Mercy at 5:30 p.m.
Monday, April 18: at Amity at 5:15 p.m.
Thursday, April 21: vs. Guilford at 5:30 p.m.
Friday, April 22: at Sacred Heart Academy at 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 26: at East Lyme at 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 28: vs. Glastonbury at 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 30: vs. Conard at 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 5: vs. West Haven at 5:30 p.m.
Monday, May 9: vs. Hamden at 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 11: at Greenwich at 4:30 p.m.
Friday, May 13: at Lauralton Hall at 3:45 p.m.
Monday, May 16: vs. Branford at 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 19: at Cheshire at 6:30 p.m.
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