Encouraging Early Returns for ME Girls Lacrosse


Tallying a 3-1 record to begin the season constitutes what most would consider a strong, early start to the season.  When asked about it, Manchester Essex girls’ lacrosse coach Nan Gorton stresses the “early” part of that description.

“I think about the season in three parts,” Gorton explains.  “One, before spring break.  Two, after spring break.  Three, postseason.  Before Spring break is a time when we try to set the tone for the year.  We try to have the girls come together as a team and make a commitment to each other.  With the increasing demands from outside of school extracurriculars, sports and family commitments, that is becoming increasingly difficult.  We have felt those pressures as a team. 

Gorton adds: “That being said, we have had a decent start.  We have learned a lot and we are choosing to take those lessons into the second part of the season.  The goal is to continue making each other a priority and work as hard as we can when we are all together.”

Despite getting three out of four wins at the start of the spring season, Gorton is more interested in how her team responds to challenges rather than tone-setting or early momentum at this point.  Even with three wins over Marblehead, Masconomet and Georgetown -- as well as a close, 6-4 loss to rival Ipswich on April 5 -- she believes this group is still in that early stage of coming together and figuring things out.

“I think perhaps even more important than a good start is having a dose of adversity,” says Gorton.  “Although our record reflects a strong start, we are not satisfied with how we have played so far and are looking to reach deeper to find our potential.  We have had moments of brilliance; great passes, terrific goals, some great hustle plays and strong saves from Brigid, but we can be better.  My job is to balance learning how to give all of yourself toward a common goal, while making sure sport stays in the right perspective.  We are not out here to add pressure to the girls, something that all high school kids are feeling more and more, but that doesn’t mean that we can expect less than our full effort.  This is when lacrosse really becomes a vehicle for learning life lessons.”

Those moments of brilliance have been evident even at this stage of the season.  Gorton lauded her team’s ability to secure 16 draw controls during a 15-6 victory against Marblehead to open the season at the start of the month, followed by six different players scoring goals and providing assists in a 14-2 win over Georgetown two days later.  Elle Morgan scored her first varsity goal against Georgetown, and Shields Edgerton scored her first of the season in a 13-2 win over Masco on April 9. 

The most adversity that the Hornets have faced to this point came in the loss to Ipswich on April 5.

“The Ipswich game is always a battle and this year’s first match-up against them was a nail-biter,” explains Gorton.  “Mechi O’Neil had two goals, Ella Chafe had one and Sylvie McCavanagh had one.  We are hoping to draw from the last few times we have played Ipswich and lost by two and get a ‘W’ at home the next time we play them in May.  

That will be a great game not to miss.”

Some familiar names have been crucial to Manchester Essex’s efforts during the first four contests of the season.  All-everything goaltender Brigid Carovillano has been as good as ever, Charlotte Crocker has anchored the defense, Abby Kent has been the focal point in the midfield and Sylvie McCavanagh has led the offense to double-digit scoring in three of four games.  Captains O’Neil and Chafe have served as the catalysts for this group.

“Our captains -- O’Neil and Chafe -- are super role models for hard work, intensity and grit,” says Gorton.  “I love how they have led the team so far and I am excited to see what this next phase looks like.”

Maggie Light has exhibited signs that she is ready to take the next step as a varsity player in 2024.

“I think the most surprising player right now is Maggie Light,” says Gorton.  “She has shown up every day working hard, staying positive, running fast and doing exactly what we ask her to do. She is not a standout in points earned, but I think she has embodied what it means to be a Hornet lacrosse player.” Now that we are past April vacation and have officially moved on to what Gorton describes as the second phase of the season, the challenges don’t get any easier for the Hornets.  This week brought a key road game against Hamilton-Wenham on April 24, sandwiched by games against Lynnfield (April 23) and Triton (April 26).  In the weeks ahead, major challenges loom with a road game against Pentucket on May 7 (7:30 p.m.) and the highly-anticipated rematch with Ipswich on May 9 at home (7:30 p.m.).

“This Wednesday night we play Hamilton-Wenham for the first
time this season,” says Gorton.  “They have some really good players and are well coached.  I am looking forward to heading over to their grass field and
seeing what we can put together.”