Experienced Poly striving for lacrosse state title

Experienced Poly striving for lacrosse state title
Photo by Steve Schnibbe

Poly Prep’s girls’ lacrosse squad is tired of playing second fiddle. It believes its experienced roster will allow it to make a run at a private school state title this season.

“I think this year there are a lot of people who have been on the varsity since their freshmen and sophomore year so we are feeling like it is our year for sure,” said Vanderbilt-bound midfielder Grace Bell.

The Blue Devils finished in second place in the Ivy League last season behind rival Hackley, and lost in the semifinals of the state tournament. Poly has already lost its first meeting with the Hornets 20–13 on April 2 in just its second game of the year, but it isn’t discouraged.

“We don’t feel like they are unbeatable,” Bell said. “We definitely feel like we are up there.”

The Blue Devils got off to slow start in that contest and played pretty much even the rest of the way. Poly counts on being sharper and more cohesive when the two teams square off again on May 9. First-year coach Terry Denson said Hackley’s stick skills were better than his club’s so early in the year, but he is confident his team can compete with its rival down the road.

“Athlete-for-athlete, we are as good if not better,” Denson said.

The team is unbeaten otherwise. Poly owns lopsided wins over Fieldston, Riverdale, and Dalton thanks to a balanced offensive attack. The team adapted quickly to Denson after former coach Anni Zukauskas moved back to Massachusetts with her family. Denson was her assistant for four seasons.

He takes over a team that lost leading scorer Jane Tewksbury to graduation. Now everything runs through Bell, a four-year varsity player, in the midfield. She is a threat to go to goal and score or send a sharp pass to an open teammate. Bell makes Poly a major threat in transition. Senior Mairead Gormley and Elizabeth Bernstein have been key offensive contributors. Still, when things get tight, the Blue Devils squad knows it can turn to Bell.

“She is always going to be there whether we are down or up by a lot — especially when we are down, because that means emotionally we are also down,” junior Emilie Sauvayre said. “So we need someone who is mentally strong like her to be able to bring everybody up.”

Sophomore Lauren Martin and senior Margaret Riordan lead a young defense along with sophomore Collette DiGrazia. The Blue Devils will only get more dangerous when sophomore Meg Coll — the team’s best athlete — returns from a groin injury. They are just some of the many pieces Poly possesses that has it thinking about reaching its first state title game since 2011.

“I think because our junior and senior classes are so strong we feel like this is our time,” Sauvayre said. “For the seniors, it is their last shot.”