Sits at top of Freedom League at 3-2

Published in the April 20, 2018 edition


MELROSE—The Melrose High girls’ lacrosse team is enjoying a winning, 3-2 record after a pair of victories last week that finds them at the top of the ML Freedom league with key league play starting next week.

On April 10, Melrose earned an impressive 19-12 win over Arlington at home that saw Melrose sophomore Emma Randolph earn six goals and two assists, and Lily Cunningham with five goals and 1 assist. At the net, Linnea Kelley had 7 saves over the day. It was a hard fought game in the first half before Melrose made some adjustments that helped them take control of the game in the second half.

“The nice part of that game was that I was able to get everyone some playing time,” said Melrose head coach Matt Galusi. “We transitioned the ball very well on our clears. We were better on ground balls but still need to clean it up. Additionally, we continue to have unforced turnovers and give the ball away.”

Melrose saw offensive contributions from Samantha Zysk who had 2 goals and 2 assists, Abby Cunningham who had 1 goal and 2 assists and Rachel DiFraia and Katie Wright, who also each added a goal. 

THE MELROSE Lady Raider lacrosse team is off to a healthy 3-2 start to the season. (Donna Larsson photo) 

“Goal tending has been great so far with Linnea Kelley getting the majority of the time in the pipes,” says Galusi. “In our season opener against Lynnfield, Linnea ‘saved our bacon’ with great save after great save. It was also nice to get Marie Maher some time in the Arlington game and she performed very well.”

Melrose faced a trickier team when they traveled to play St. Mary’s of Lynn, but still prevailed 13-6. “It was a weird game,” says the coach. “We felt like we were controlling the game, yet every time we looked up at the scoreboard (first half) it was a 1 goal game. We allowed them to hang around and I explained to the girls at halftime how that is very dangerous to give a team life and let them believe that they can pull off the upset.”

But Melrose came out blazing in the second half with four, very quick goals that put the game back in their hands. Offensively, Melrose relied on leading scorers, Emma Randolph and Lily Cunningham, who scored five goals and three goals, respectively. Melrose transitioned the ball well and ran an effective settled offense with a few set plays. “I was happy that we were able to score out of transition (fast breaks), out of settled situations and out of us causing turnover. We are not where we need to be yet, but everyday we get a little better and develop a greater lacrosse IQ.” Adding to the scoring over the day was Samantha Zysk with 2 goals, Abby Cunningham with 1 goal and three assists and Lauren Pedrini with 1 goal and an assist and Rachel DiFraia with a goal. 

This season, Melrose has transitioned into a Division 1 team (due to realignment) and will be on par with their Middlesex league mates like Winchester, Woburn, Lexington and Wakefield. Melrose took on Woburn and Lexington earlier in the season but lost 14-7 (Woburn) and 13-6 (Lexington). Those are the games that Galusi and his teams will consider learning opportunities.

“We played tough against both Lexington and Woburn but unfortunately didn’t come out on top. The crazy thing in both games is how slow we started. I’m fully confident that if we got off to a better start in those games the outcome could be different. We can take some pride that both opposing coaches stated that they were impressed with how hard our team played and, how if a few bounces went differently, they would have been very close games.”

With some key games coming up against league rivals Burlington and Wilmington, Melrose will look to remain stingy at defense and continue ample goal production. So far this season, sophomore Emma Randolph leads with 19 goals and 3 assists. Right behind her is junior Lily Cunningham, with 14 goals and 4 assists. Lauren Pedrini has six goals, Sam Zysk five and Rachel DiFraia three. 

Moving forward, the team’s goal, according to the coach, is to eliminate the self-inflicted wounds (”turnovers, sloppy play with the ball and “lazy” ground balls,” says the coach). “If we can protect the rock and not turn it over, we are a tough out. We will also be working on our shooting and shot selection. In every one of our games this season we have left points on the field due to a poor shot selection or a shot directly into the goalie stick—this will change.”

In his first five games as head coach of the team, Galusi expresses gratitude for his warm welcome. “Athletic Director Fogarty, Principal Merrill and the entire school administration have been welcoming and helpful and I thank them. Additionally, I must acklowledge my assistant coaches for their hard work and dedication and the player parents for all the support and encouragement.”

In the meantime, Melrose enjoys being at the top of the ML Freedom league, but to maintain that, and become a playoff threat, it will take a little finesse. “This is a skilled team that just needs to develop a little more confidence and chemistry,” says the coach. “We will really ramp up our Team Building/Bonding next week and work to deepen our level of trust. These girls are so close to really “figuring” it all out, and once we do that, I can’t wait to see what happens!”

Melrose looks to keep their winning ways up when they take on Burlington on the road Thursday (post deadline) before hosting Wilmington this Tuesday.