Medway Girls’ Lacrosse Team Aiming For Tourney Berth

Ken Hamwey, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
June, 2018
Article Body: 

Cassandra McGill and the Medway girls’ lacrosse program are a successful partnership.
The 25-year-old McGill took the coaching reins last year and her rookie season was smooth, leading the Mustangs to an 11-6 record and a berth in the playoffs where Medway split a pair of games, beating Watertown then losing to Walpole.
This season, McGill’s forces have answered the bell again and are closing in on another tourney berth. Medway’s record was 7-5 at Local Town Pages deadline and the Mustangs needed two wins in their final six matches for a date in the playoffs.
The Mustangs coach, although relatively new with only two years of experience, was a dynamic player at Westboro High and Stonehill College.
A lacrosse captain in high school and college, McGill was a midfielder at Westboro and an attack at Stonehill. A two-time Mid-Wach all-star in high school, she helped the Rangers win four straight sectional crowns. Besides lacrosse, she played field hockey and also was a gymnast. Other notable achievements include earning 12 letters in high school and being named player of the year by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for lacrosse.
Although Medway has struggled to get more girls to participate in lacrosse, this year’s contingent, nevertheless, has a plethora of strengths. “Our players are versatile, experienced and coachable,’’ McGill said. “I also like their field awareness, their work ethic and their lacrosse IQ is high.’’
Because she has only 28 players for varsity and jayvee games, McGill is acutely aware of where improvement is needed. “Our low numbers create a problem,’’ she said. “We just don’t have much depth. One of my goals is to build tradition, and to do that, we’ll focus on working with the youth program. I’ll be involved, and I also want our players to assist.’’
This year’s squad has some top-notch players and two of them — Alexis Ferns at attack and Katie Keating on defense — are senior captains who lead by example and by being supportive. Ferns had 14 goals through 12 games.
“Alexis is consistent, has good stick skills and is a calming influence,’’ McGill said. “Katie’s field vision and footwork are solid and her high lacrosse IQ makes her a terrific defender.’’
Lily Sears, who’ll be playing lacrosse at Westfield State next spring, has been consistent in goal. “Lily is an excellent communicator,’’ McGill noted. “Her field sense is excellent and her technical skills are very good.’’
Medway has a trio of defenders to line up with Keating. They are sophomore Emma Doherty, junior Stephanie Messina and freshman Mary Kate MacDougall. “Emma’s footwork, overall skills and defensive knowledge are very good,’’ McGill said. “Stephanie is quick and athletic and her footwork is an asset. Mary Kate’s footwork also is effective and she’s a hard worker who’s athletic and very coachable.’’
Medway’s midfielders are a capable corps and they include juniors Ava Vasile (36 goals, 13 assists, 86 draw controls), Olivia Heaney (29 goals, 12 assists, 31 draw controls) and Izzy Jackson (25 goals, 6 assists). “Ava has incredible speed,’’ McGill said. “She’s also an all-around player who’s capable on draws. She’ll be playing at the University of Vermont next year. Heaney has great endurance and a dynamic work ethic and is solid in transition. She’ll be at Assumption next year. Izzy is tenacious on defense, has a strong shot, and is solid in transition because of her endurance.’’
Joining Ferns on attack are juniors Maddie Heaney (15 goals, 7 assists) and Brandi Core (8 goals, 4 assists). “Maddie is patient on offense and has a terrific presence, able to assess all types of situations,’’ McGill said. “Brandi has improved. Her stick skills are solid, and her field sense is sharp. She’s effective in re-defensive moves.’’
McGill’s success in her first two years as a head coach undoubtedly can be traced to the attributes she looks for when assembling a roster.
“I want players who respect other teammates and the coaches,’’ she emphasized. “I also aim for prospects who are coachable, versatile, athletic and willing to work. Stick skills and a high lacrosse IQ are also key components. There are life lessons to be learned in sports and our players strive to be good teammates, respectful and able to understand their roles.’’
McGill’s athletic philosophy is a combination of competing hard with an eye towards winning and playing to one’s potential. She gets results because she emphasizes three key elements — stick-work, fitness and fundamentals. And, McGill knows how to adapt, blending an up-tempo style with being deliberate. “I lean towards a slower pace, because of our lack of depth,’’ she said, “but when a fast-break opportunity arises, we’ll go up-tempo.’’
Cheryl Richardson is Medway’s jayvee coach and Meghan Keohane is a varsity assistant. Teamed with McGill, the trio meshes well as they strive to build on last year’s success and elevate the Mustangs’ tradition in the Tri Valley League.