Natick Girls Lacrosse Team Will Have Some Senior Moments

KEN HAMWEY Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
March, 2020
Article Body: 

Senior leadership will play a key role for the Natick High girls lacrosse team this season.
Coach Tanner Guarino, now in her fourth year at the helm, has 10 seniors who’ll provide a plethora of strengths that should make the Redhawks a top-level team once again in the Bay State Conference. During her first three seasons, Guarino guided Natick to three consecutive tourney berths.
“I’m excited for the season ahead,’’ said Guarino, who last year guided the Redhawks to a 16-4 record. “We’ve got a great group of senior leaders. They’ve helped to build a strong program and have created a positive atmosphere. Senior leaders can promote a coach’s philosophy and they also help younger players understand expectations. Seniors often provide a maturity level that connects players with coaches.’’
Guarino’s goals for the season include daily improvement, contending for the Carey Division title and qualifying for the playoffs. “We’ve been eliminated from the tourney for three straight years in the second round,’’ Guarino said. “This year we want to advance further.’’
A deep tourney run could be in the cards because of Guarino’s corps of seniors, six of whom are four-year veterans. The 27-year-old coach likes the assets her veterans possess. “They’ve got experience, they work hard and their lacrosse IQ is high,’’ she emphasized. “They’re determined, coachable and athletic. The seniors know what to expect and they’re a technically-sound group.’’
Following is a capsule look at the 10 seniors in alphabetical order:
PAIGE GHILANI — Playing her first season of lacrosse last year in goal with no experience, she averaged 6.6 saves a game. “Paige is very athletic,’’ Guarino said. “She works hard and is a good teammate. Spending a lot of time working on her technique, she has shown continuous improvement.’’ She’ll be playing next year but has yet to decide on a college venue.
KAYLEIGH HACKER — A defender who was a junior captain last year, she’ll be playing lacrosse next year for Babson College. “Kayleigh is an adept communicator whose field awareness is excellent,’’ Guarino said. “She’s a smart player who understands the game and relies on good footwork.’’
NATALIE HAILER — An aggressive attacker, she’s a strong dodger who goes hard to the goal. “Natalie has a strong work ethic and she passes effectively,’’ Guarino noted. “A good teammate, she’s well aware of our offensive patterns.’’
TYLER JACKOWITZ — An attacker, she scored 19 goals last year and assisted on two others. “Tyler is explosive and has a powerful shot,’’ Guarino said. “A hard-worker, she pushes herself and her teammates in practice. Her experience should help her have a productive year.’’
STEPHANIE McAULIFFE — A veteran midfielder, she scored 18 goals last year. “Stephanie is strong in transition, has great speed and good field vision,’’ Guarino said. “Her stick skills are a plus along with her passing ability. She’s improved every year.’’ McAuliffe will play next year at Bentley University.
VICTORIA NORCHI — A junior captain last year, the midfielder scored 48 goals and had 3 assists. “Victoria missed our last five games because of a late-season injury,’’ Guarino said. “She’s very good in transition, she’s aggressive, tenacious, and always driving hard to the goal. Her stick skills are solid.’’ Norchi will play next year at Dartmouth College.
CAROLINE O’CONNELL — A strong defender, she’ll play at Assumption next year. “Caroline has great presence on defense,’’ Guarino said. “She leads by example and has a good understanding of team defense. Her field vision is solid, she’s very coachable and she gets into good position.’’
ERIN QUIRK — Another strong defender, she’ll be playing field hockey next fall for Colby College. “Erin is quick and her instincts are exceptional,’’ Guarino said. “She’s also athletic, her footwork is good and her speed is a plus in transition.
ZOE SULLIVAN — An attacker, she had 36 goals and 43 assists last year, leading the Redhawks in assists and points. “Zoe makes great plays by seeing the field and making outstanding feeds,’’ Guarino said. “She creates lots of offense because of her stick skills and field vision.’’ She’ll be competing for the University of Rochester next year.
STELLA TAVILLA — A goalie who’ll be in her second year of varsity play, she “brings positive energy to the team.’’ Guarino admires her strong work ethic. “Stella works hard, is coachable, and has quick hands. She’s a good teammate.’’
Guarino, who coached the Holliston High varsity girls for two seasons, is co-owner of Gold Star Lacrosse, a club program that focuses on instruction and competition. The Redhawks’ coach, who plays lacrosse professionally, knows what competition is all about and she’s acutely aware that the Carey Division pennant race will be a battle. “Wellesley is the defending champ and they’re always strong,’’ she noted.
But, don’t discount Natick’s strengths and ability. The Redhawks, who open their season at Needham on March 31, are focused, determined, and highly experienced. They’re also a senior-laden contingent that know the value of leadership.
As Guarino says: “I’m really proud of the girls and the program they’ve helped to build.