BILLERICA — After starting off the week with a tough loss to Mystic Valley, the Shawsheen Tech Girls Lacrosse team bounced back with two convincing victories to improve their record to 9-5 on the season and keep their slim hopes for a fourth consecutive CAC championship alive.
The Rams started their week with a narrow hard fought 6-5 loss to Mystic Valley last Wednesday. It was the second one goal loss of the season for the Rams to Mystic Valley, having dropped a 10-9 decision in their season opener.
The Rams got three goals from freshman Devin Sweeney and one each from Megan Brown and Kara Ippolito, while senior goalie Julia Ryan of Wilmington made 13 saves. It was not enough, however, to prevent the Rams from dropping a heartbreaker.
“That was a hard pill to swallow. Our defense and goaltending were phenomenal but we just couldn’t pick up the slack on offense,” Shawsheen coach Alex O’Reilly said. “A lot of the focus this season has been on coaching the mental game and I think we’ll see a shift in our team next year as we have the majority of the team returning. We are a very young team right now but as we look ahead that’s great news for future seasons.
“We have to work out the kinks that I think everyone faces when the majority of your roster is underclassmen. We’ve seen these roadblocks a few times this season with many games coming to a loss by one goal. I think next season we should see those games end in our favor but for right now we just have to keep focusing on what works well, and making sure that we’re doing everything we can to match that level of play on both ends of the field.”
The Rams didn’t have to wait that long to rebound this loss however, as they bounced back the very next day with a 12-0 victory over CAC rival Whittier.
Shawsheen was led by three goals by sophomore Rachael Halas, while freshmen Ashley Talbot and Darielle Wilson, both of Tewksbury, each scored their first varsity goals. Juniors Celina Barczak of Wilmington and Maddi McKenna of Tewksbury each had a goal as well, while Jade Sweeney added two goals and Devin Sweeney had one. Ryan and sophomore Jenna Johnson combined for the shutout.
“Getting the younger girls out on the field and seeing them battle through the nerves and hesitation that comes with stepping on a varsity field for the first time is really cool as a coach,” O’Reilly said. “I can remember so clearly my first shift on the ice during my freshman year on the hockey team so I know firsthand it’s a moment that you don’t forget. Ashley and Darielle scored their first varsity goals as freshman last week. They were overjoyed, the team was all cheering, and us coaches were really proud of them for putting themselves out there and taking the shot.”
The Rams closed out their week with a 10-2 win over Nashoba Tech on Monday. Johnson played the field in this one and scored her first varsity goal, while Barczak and Jade Sweeney had three goals each and Brown, Ippolito, and Devin Sweeney had one goal each. Ryan had nine saves in net.
O’Reilly talked about Barczak’s big three goal game.
“Celina has had a great season this year. She’s really grown into herself as a player and has become very comfortable on the field,” O’Reilly said. “Every time she’s out there she’s making things happen. Last night she got two hard drives to net that resulted in goals and the third was from a free position shot.”
She was also very happy to see Johnson score her first varsity goal after contributing to a big win in net against Whittier.
“Jenna is in a great spot right now as we look to next season. Unfortunately Julia Ryan will be graduating, but we’re excited for Jenna to step up and fill the role,” O’Reilly said. “She’s never actually played field but she’s been asking to try it, just for a game, since last season. It worked out well that we could have her try the field yesterday since there was no JV game. It was definitely a positive experience for her to see things from the field-players perspective, and it was exciting for her to share the same ‘first varsity goal’ milestone that her teammates get to experience.”
The Rams will be back in action on Wednesday when they host CAC rival Northeast before closing out their regular season against non-league rival Lowell Catholic next Tuesday.
If the Rams, who have two CAC losses, defeat Northeast on Wednesday night and if Essex defeats Mystic on the same night, the Rams will share the CAC title with Mystic Valley, who currently has one league loss. Essex has been eliminated from title contention with three league losses.