WESTERLY—Once upon a time the Chariho girls lacrosse team looked like the boys team.
A collection of athletes who grew up playing the more conventional sports – soccer, basketball or softball – that were looking to translate their success in one sport to another.
When the program started in 2008 the Chargers looked like athletes playing lacrosse but now five years later, they look more like lacrosse players who are also athletes.
Whether it was in Division II or III the team has yet to win more than three games in a season – a combined 7-55 career record – but if Chariho plays anything like it did Monday at Westerly the Chargers could be in line for their first winning season.
“Everything is going great,” senior center Hannah Baker said.
“We have a bunch of underclassmen but they’re all picking it up really quickly.
“I feel like we’re already starting where we ended last year so I feel like we’re going to build and build and build.”
“In the four years I’ve played,” senior goalkeeper Kaitlin Dolloff said, “this is the first year I can comfortably say we have the potential to beat anyone we play.”
The Chargers opened the season on April 3 with a 14-7 loss to Narragansett – one of the favorites to win the D-III title this season – but bounced back with a convincing 15-7 victory over rival Westerly Monday.
“This was the greatest game I’ve ever seen our team play,” Dolloff said, “especially against Westerly.
“Coming in the intensity is high, the pressure is on because they’re our rivals and you don’t want to disappoint your fans. Our defense worked amazing today. It was the best I’ve ever seen it.”
Through the first half the Bulldogs were very much in the game as the Chargers clung to a 5-4 lead at the break thanks to four goals from senior Mattie Russell.
In the second half, however, Chariho took control.
After the two teams alternated goals in the first four minutes the Chargers rattled off eight unanswered goals in a little over a 10 minutes span to take a commanding 14-5 advantage.
“Last year if they had played like that I would have been surprised,” laughed Chariho coach Michelle Tebbets about the stretch from her team, “but this year [not as much].
“They all play other sports together too so I can’t just say in the past two weeks they’ve learned how to do that, it’s taken them two years playing together.”
The lead was more than enough for Dolloff, who is poised to be one of the best goaltenders in the division this season.
Russell finished the evening with six goals, junior Jenna Brierly had four scores and Baker had two, while sophomore Sami Orciari, junior Paige Pajarillo and sophomore Abby Cuddy chipped in with one goal apiece.
In girls lacrosse possession is critical and the Chargers dominated in that department in the second half thanks to Baker.
A standout defenseman on the girls soccer team in the fall, Baker won nearly every draw from center in the second half to allow Chariho to go on its big run.
From there forwards Russell, Brierly and Pajarillo – each of whom complements the other nicely with their different styles – took care of the rest.
Sophomores Katherine Bodell, Amanda Picozzi, Savannah Dube, junior Emily Manning and seniors Jenna Flynn and Michaela Carrier also played well for the Chargers.
Chariho will be back in action today at 3:30 p.m. when it hosts a solid Pilgrim squad.