EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 23, 2013

Freshmen lead North Andover into tourney

High School Lacrosse
Christopher Smith

---- — North Andover just finished off an impressive regular season (15-5), one that senior defender Kaileigh Rogato said wouldn’t have been so successful without four super freshmen.

Those four are led by rookie goalie Lauren Hiller, who has recorded 10 or more saves in nine games including a combined 24 stops in two tight contests against Masconomet.

She also had 15 saves in a 12-10 loss to Ipswich on Monday.

“She’s actually one of the best goalies I’ve ever played with,” Rogato said.

“She’s a very quiet person but she’s very dominant and her presence is very strong. ... She has great clears. She makes a great first step to the ball so she’s not afraid to step out of the net.

“If another team is trying to stall us, she no problem coming out of her crease, putting her stick up and acting like another defender,” Rogato added.

Rogato said Hiller especially stood out as the real deal in a 7-4 victory over Andover on April 5. That victory marked the first time the Scarlet Knights had beaten Andover in 10 years.

“In the Andover game, she dominated and had amazing saves,” Rogato said.

Michelle Poirier (attacker), Abbie Karalis (midfielder) and Emma Johns (defender) are the other Scarlet Knight freshmen.

“It’s so fun to see how they’re so young and yet they’re connecting with even the older kids on and off the field,” Rogato said. “It’s really good to see the connection going into the tournament.”

Karalis plays alongside senior Pam Coufos and sophomore Leah Chittick.

“She doesn’t really have a lot of what we call ‘freshmen mistakes,’” Rogato said about Karalis.

“She’s really smart with the ball. A lot of it has to do with her pure athleticism.”

Rogato added Poirier has a lot of speed and cuts well while Johns has tremendous strength.

“She’s very aggressive,” Rogato said about Johns. “She has no problem bumping you and letting you know that she’s there. And that’s a very important skill to have on defense.”

Rogato and her young North Andover team are excited about playing in the tournament.

“I think it’s very possible that we could make one of the longest runs (in program history),” Rogato said.

“It all depends on how much heart we have. We’re a very skilled and talented team. And we do play with a lot of heart. But we’ve got to keep that up and make sure because like any team we can come out flat.”

Timberlane remains positive

Timberlane senior attacker Mike Canniff has remained positive despite a difficult season.

The Owls entered their season finale yesterday with a 0-13 record.

“We definitely lost some big guys from last year,” Canniff said.

“And we’ve had a couple of injuries this year. We’ve kept motivated and we all want to be there.”

Canniff will play club lacrosse at the University of Maine next year.

He also enjoys fishing and camping and hopes to take part in those activities during some free time in Maine.

He will be studying forestry and minoring in criminal justice.

Weeks on D

Andover senior defender Tyler Weeks has committed to play at UMass Amherst and he has been anchoring a strong Andover defense all year, coach Wayne Puglisi said.

“He’s aggressive, strong, he has a great stick and he’s the whole package,” Puglisi said. “He’s a major contributor to the whole field, moving the ball and clearing it.”

Comeau in control

The game of the week happened last Thursday when Haverhill battled back from four goals down with 2 minutes left in regulation to beat Pentucket 17-16 in a sudden death overtime.

Hillies freshman Alex Comeau had 13 saves. She also had six saves in a 11-10 victory over Lowell on Saturday.

“She has great instincts and a great ability to see the field,” said Haverhill coach Mindy Cripps, adding that Comeau has terrific reflexes. “The girls have a way of responding to her because of her way of running the defense. She’s fearless.”

Robertston rules

A big congratulations to Haverhill’s Kristy Robertson who scored her 200th career goal in the Hillies’ 11-10 victory over Lowell on Saturday.

Whittier’s defensive strategy

Sophomore Pat Rodden, a second-year starter, continues to get even better as Whittier’s goalie.

Whittier actually plays a zone defense, forcing the ball to the outside, because of Rodden.

“We’ll give (teams) the outside shot because we know Rodden can handle those,” Whittier coach Ryan Richards said.

Teams definitely take a good number of shots against Whittier each game but that’s not a negative, Richards assured.

“Because we can rely on him,” Richards said about Rodden, adding he has become the team’s backbone.

Powers powerful game

Methuen’s Nick Powers recorded a remarkable 22 saves last Wednesday to lead the Rangers to their first MVC victory, a 7-6 win over Haverhill.

“We couldn’t have done it without any of them but most certainly him,” Methuen coach Ed Brandt said about Powers.

“He’s very vocal leader. He can be a very dominant personality so when he’s on his game I have complete trust in him.”