Above: Helena Dunwoody (13) pivots for a successful shot on goal. Photo by Mary MacIntosh
By Tommy Sprague
Players and fans alike knew the stakes were high in the Thursday night (6/1/23) matchup between the East Greenwich Avengers and Barrington Eagles. Win and you continue to the Division I finals, lose and your season is over. Welcome to the semifinals, the penultimate competition at the end of a historic run for this East Greenwich girl’s lacrosse team. After winning only four games last season, these Avengers were 11-3 and charging into the postseason. EG knew the very talented Barrington squad would come to play and, despite the fact that the Avengers had beaten Barrington twice in the regular season, the experts predicted that the Eagles would prevail. This game was also projected to be one of the best games of the playoffs and both teams delivered.
Possessing the ball is more than half the battle in lacrosse and, in the first half, Barrington dominated the draw. While the Eagles had the possession advantage, the Avenger defense came in clutch and shut down the Eagles’ attack. Lexi Kavanagh, Grace Birkett, Izzy Gelzhiser and Olivia Prior maintained a center of gravity, power and movement directing their energies on the Barrington blitz. Keeper Fiona Baxter denied the relentless Barrington’s offensive push, making critical saves and effective clears to put the ball on the opposite side of the field. The Avenger’s offense deftly moved the ball around the goal with players advancing and cutting to keep the Barrington defense on their toes. The score went back and forth as expected. EG’s six goals in the first half were made by six different players – a true team effort to end the first half in a six to six tie. The Avengers contributing were Mila Navarro (2), Lily Peters (1), Eva Dufresne (1), Catherine Sprague (1) and Izzy Gelzhiser (1).
In the second half, the Avengers continued to play with excitement and enthusiasm, clearly having fun on the field but still managing to rattle the Barrington team. Still, the Eagles were able to dominate the many 50/50 ground ball opportunities resulting from some sloppy play and aggression by EG – again, more possession created more scoring opportunities for Barrington. It was time for the Avengers’ talented offense to kick in and they overwhelmed Barrington’s defense. Down two goals in the last minutes of the game after EG effectively killed the clock, the Eagles attempted one last offensive attack, but EG’s defense held fast. EG scored another seven goals in the second – once again spread among five players – Navarro (2), Peters (2), Helena Dunwoody (1), Maeve Kiernan (1) and Gelzhiser (1). The final score was EG 13, Barrington 11. The Avengers now face the state’s toughest opponent, Moses Brown, on Saturday, June 3, at 1 p.m. at Brown University’s Stevenson-Pincince field.
Tommy Sprague is a team parent. Mary MacIntosh is another local resident who pitches in to help with photos, usually for football, but occasionally for lacrosse as well. Our thanks to them both. EG News is looking for similarly motivated sports enthusiasts to help us cover other EG sports. With more volunteers, we can cover more teams. If you are interested in helping cover sports next school year, contact [email protected]. We are happy to help!