GREEN  The Green girls lacrosse team used the first-ever OHSAA-sanctioned state tournament to create some lasting memories for itself.

Although the Bulldogs’ run ended with a third-round defeat to a Jackson team seeded second in the state in Division I, the preceding two games served as winning reminders of the program’s recent progress.

A 19-0 win over GlenOak in the first round was a solid postseason start for Green, even though the two technically aren’t Federal League rivals because the league doesn’t sponsor lacrosse. That offensive outburst set the stage for a road game against fourth-seeded Shaker Heights, a contest that Green players and coaches won’t forget any time soon.

An 11-10 win sent the Bulldogs on to play Jackson and the game’s comeback story line made for an exciting evening.

“In seven years of coaching, that was one of the most exciting wins I have been apart of,” Green head coach Marisa Rainieri said. “The game was very competitive and intense. At one point in the game we were actually down by three, but the girls fought back and never gave up.”

The Bulldogs’ ability to rally stems from an offense the has received contributions from across the board, with a pair of underclassmen leading the way.

With 45 goals, junior Lexi Barrickman topped the team in finding the back of the net and added 58 draw controls was well. Sophomore Rebecca Gibson, close behind with 27 goals and 36 draw controls, provided a solid 1-2 punch for the Green offense, but the defense played a big part in the squad’s 8-6 season as well.

In allowing just 10 goals in their first two tournament games, the Bulldogs proved they had implemented the lessons they’d learned over the course of the season as well as the messages from their coaches about what it takes to be effective on the defensive end of the field.

“Communication and teamwork … the girls have really stepped up and worked on their communication and playing with their new goalie,” Rainieri said.

The new goalie, Alex Sklack, stepped between the pipes and progressed solidly from the beginning of the season through its end. That process was helped in part by a difficult schedule that included two games against Jackson and several other strong Division I teams that provided strong tests for Green.

The 8-6 record reflects a schedule that may have been taxing at times, but was set up purposefully as a way to continue the Bulldogs’ growth from recent seasons by setting a high standard of competition.

“Our schedule was tough this year, but I did that on purpose,” Rainieri said. “I think our team works harder playing against higher caliber teams.”

That idea of a team raising its level of play to match that of better competition is one that Green would like to continue moving forward. Jackson remains one of the state’s top programs and as a neighboring district for Green, it’s clear that the Bulldogs will have a strong local foe with whom to contend for the foreseeable future if they hope to make an impact both in the area and beyond.

Rising in the ranks of Division I lacrosse will hinge largely on Green’s ability to continue to create interest in the sport among students coming up in the district. This season’s team benefited from a solid freshman class and that trend should continue next season, according to Rainieri.

“I welcomed eight new freshman this year and next year we have close to the same amount coming from eighth grade,” she said. “It's nice seeing so many young players entering your program and enjoying the sport.” 

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