Columbus School for Girls lacrosse coach Lindsay Pieper never doubted her team had the potential to be competitive this season, even though it lost seven starters from a year ago to graduation.
Pieper could tell that her players were slightly unsure of themselves when the Unicorns opened with a 12-10 loss to Hartley in a Central Independent League game on March 29 and lost 11-8 to Thomas Worthington on March 31.
That outlook changed the past two weeks, as CSG won its next three games, including an 11-9 league victory over DeSales on April 12. The Stallions had entered the game 3-0.
“I’ve always had a lot of confidence in this team, and I’ve tried to instill that in our girls since the beginning of the season,” Pieper said. “It’s taken a little while, but the girls have been playing with more confidence and stepping up their level of play each game, and this win shows that we’re capable of being a great team.”
Sophomore midfielder Sophie Sugar scored six goals against DeSales, including three of the Unicorns’ four goals in the second half.
Senior midfielder Laynie Thomas had six groundballs and three draw controls and caused two turnovers.
“Everyone stepped up against DeSales, from our goalkeeper to our attack,” Pieper said. “We’ve set high expectations for this team from day one, and the moment we beat DeSales was the moment the girls really began to believe in themselves.”
Sugar had a team-high 24 goals through five games, followed by senior attackers Miranda Butler-Pettit and Patricia Ryan, both of whom had nine goals, and sophomore midfielder Erin Balasky, who had seven goals.
“Sophie has had an awakening to the fact that she’s capable of scoring a whole lot of goals,” Pieper said. “She’s scored at least three goals in each of our first five games, and Miranda, Patricia and Erin are doing a great job, too.”
After giving up an average of 11.5 goals in their first two games, the Unicorns allowed an average of 6.3 goals in their next three contests, with senior Maddie McGregor leading their defensive unit.
Senior goalkeeper Teal Harrison averaged 13 saves through five games.
“Our defense is really clicking and that’s one of the big reasons we’ve been winning,” Pieper said.
Beginning Thursday, April 19, with a contest at Olentangy, the Unicorns will play five games in six days.
Columbus School for Girls then will play Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown and Cleveland Heights Beaumont in the Hannigan-Galipault tournament on Saturday, April 21, at Thomas Worthington before playing host to Delaware on Monday, April 23, and playing a league game Tuesday, April 24, at Granville.
Pieper said there will be an emphasis on defeating Gran-ville, as CSG won two of its first three league games.
“Our league title is something we’re aiming for, and I definitely feel like it’s within our reach after beating DeSales,” Pieper said. “Playing this many games in such a short amount of time is going to be difficult because we’re low on numbers this year.
“Fortunately, our girls are in great shape and are as well-conditioned as any team we’ll play, so they should be able to handle it.”
Track & field team off to strong start
The track and field team opened March 31 by scoring 138 points to win the eight-team Falcon Invitational at Fairfield Union ahead of runner-up Bloom-Carroll (119).
Sophie Chatas won the 1,600 meters in 5 minutes, 30.27 seconds and teamed with Abigail Perrini, Rosie Connor and Eva Nesbit to win the 3,200 relay (10:58.5).
JaMilla Holland, Ashley Harrington, Cecilia Pesavento and Mo Ruff won the 400 relay (55.53) and placed third in the 800 relay (1:56.83).
Also finishing first were Jordon Neilson in the shot put (31 feet, 2 1/2 inches) and Connor in the 400 (1:04.79).
“I didn’t expect us to win this invitational, because we were looking to use it to get a feel for what kind of team we have, but I’m happy that we won,” coach Lori Baldwin said. “I’m just pleased with how well the girls performed on a cold, windy day.”
The Unicorns captured their second meet, scoring 76.5 points in the nine-team Russ Owen/Bexley Relays on April 13 to finish ahead of runner-up Ready (71).
The Unicorns finished first in the lap medley relay (13:46.8) and the shuttle hurdles relay (1:13.1).