Published in the April 15, 2016 edition

THERE'S NO stopping the 2016 Lady Raider lacrosse team who've started their season undefeated at 4-0. (Donna Larsson photo)

THERE’S NO stopping the 2016 Lady Raider lacrosse team who’ve started their season undefeated at 4-0. (Donna Larsson photo)


MELROSE — It’s been a stunning start to the season for the 2016 Melrose High girls’ lacrosse team, now off to an undefeated 4-0 record after their latest win Tuesday over Arlington, 12-4.

How good are things right now for the this team? Pretty darn good, according to Melrose coach Cate Arkins.

“This is definitely our best start to the season yet,” she confirms. “I’m also seeing the best defense from these kids in my coaching career. They are just shutting down opponents.”

Melrose has scored an eye-popping 56 goals in three games, thanks in part to Haley Mate and Hayley Rodriquez, two senior captains with years of experienced and plenty of lacrosse I.Q. Both Mate and Rodriquez are racking up points during the team’s victories. Against Malden on April 9, Rodriguez had six goals and two assists while Mate had five goals and two assists.

“Both girls are scoring about 5 goals a game,” says their coach. “The beauty of this team is it’s not just the two scoring, it really is anyone from the midfield up, including our two freshmen.”

Senior captain Katey Baraw is another attacker piling on scoring and assists. Against Tewksbury Baraw scored four goals and two assists.

The difference this season, according to the coach, is the team’s ability to force turnovers more frequently and capitalize on ground balls, effectively squashing scoring opportunities. Defensively Melrose has seen outstanding work from Julia Symonds, Shannon Jones, Gabby McDonnell, Jill Mercer and Anne McFarland. But according to the coach, it’s hard to identify who is standing out on the team. “Everyone is contributing. It’s like a well run machine, all elements are working great right now,” she says.

Also impressive? The Lady Raiders beat Lexington for the first time in their existence on April 11 in a rather lopsided 16-6 victory. That followed previous victories over Malden 18-1 on April 8, Tewksbury 22-7 on April 9. Against Lexington Melrose held their rivals scoreless for the first 13 minutes, thanks to their efforts and the work at the net by Linnea Kelly (filling in for Sarah Foote). On Tuesday, they picked up their fourth win of the season in a 12-4 win. Haley Mate had 5 goals and 2 assists while Abby Cunningham had three goals. Sarah Foote returned and had a strong game with 12 saves.

While it’s still early in the season, and league play still on the horizon, Arkins is excited to see where this team may go. Four games in, there is reason to believe Melrose is capable of capturing a Middlesex League title. “They’re just playing wonderful. This is a special and talented group of girls to work with.”

Melrose will look to extend their winning streak when they travel to Arlington Catholic on Friday, April 16.