Team carries Ludlowe girls lacrosse to title
Team was the word for the Fairfield Ludlowe girls lacrosse team.
There were stars, there were leaders, but through it all there were 19 girls that would have done anything to win a championship. Their persistence and teamwork led to Ludlowe's Division II state championship win on Saturday at Bunnell High School in Stratford.
The unit was comprised of a group of kids that got along. The team was strong in all four positions on the field, and had a lot of depth on its roster.
"I can't even tell you how grateful I am for the team we have," senior captain Tierney Larson said. "It is unbelievable how well we meshed together.
The Marist-bound midfielder, Larson, was strong on attack and midfield. But she had support from fellow captain Hayley Welke and sophomore Sarah Nesi. Welke scored a pair of goals for Ludlowe on Saturday and Nesi netted five in the championship game against Staples.
"Scoring is great," Larson said. "But if I can assist my best friends' goals, that is great too."
On attack Ludlowe was paced by a pair of underclassmen as well. Casey McAuliffe and Mary Deliberti were perfectly proficient at finishing plays from Larson, as each player did on Saturday. McAuliffe is only a freshman, but scored perhaps the biggest goal of the championship game, giving the Falcons the lead for good with 19:15 left in the second half. Senior Ashley Kirby also tallied goals in each of the Falcons final two games.
Ludlowe's least heralded position was perhaps its strongest. The Falcons' defensive unit was tough and aggressive, led by captain Katie Urquhart. But one player could not defend the zone by herself, junior Blakely Zecher was tough on the ball and Christy Barre defended strongly as well.
"We worked as a unit," she said. "Once we got in the swing of things, we were tough to beat."
In goal, Ludlowe's two-headed monster was more often than not better than whatever its opposition was throwing at it. Jill Moffett would start the game and Charlotte O'Donnell would finish it. The duo worked wonders, especially when O'Donnell made some key saves in the second half to preserve the Falcons' lead against Staples.
"They were huge," Ludlowe Head Coach Amy Alvord said of her goalies. "There are little moments in every game where things can change and they came up big in those moments."
But the real difference for Ludlowe this year was coaching. Alvord was tough but fair to the team, assistant Beth Loffredo brought college lacrosse experience, she played at Fairfield University, and Jeff Uhl has now been the assistant coach of two Falcons' teams to reach the state semifinals. Uhl is an assistant for the Ludlowe girls soccer team as well.
They pushed the right buttons and knew when the unit could use more. The staff brought the team together, including a team-building trip to a ropes course in Bethel just two weeks ago.
"We had the talent," Urquhart said. "Our coaches brought it all together."
Each of the captains swore by the coaching staff that they played for.
"They were the most experienced group that ever coached us," Welke said. "They found ways to motivate us."
This was a team also that was strong enough to overcome obstacles as a group. The Falcons won five games to clinch the championship, they went on the road to win three of those games. They even overcame a 5-1 deficit in the championship game.
"They handled adversity well," Alvord said.
Being strong minded and talented in all facets of the game led to the ultimate prize, and for the unit that was just 6-8 in 2009 and 3-13 in 2008, the title was worth the wait.
"I've been dreaming about this," Welke said.