STONINGTON — Emily Cassata and Elizabeth Morrison headline a list, a rather long list, of postseason awards for the Class S champion Stonington High girls’ lacrosse team.
Cassata and Morrison, both seniors, were named to the Class S first team. Junior Jenny Sieczkiewicz made second-team All-Class S. Cassata, Morrison and Sieczkiewicz were joined by Hannah Johnson and Celeste Courtney as first team All-ECC Small Division players. Valerie Muller and Margot Calmar were named honorable mention All-ECC Small and Megan Roberts won the Sportsmanship award.
Morrison caps an standout career as a midfielder with her second straight first-team All-Class S honor. She also made second team All-Class S as a sophomore and was first team All-ECC Small all four years at Stonington.
“Elizabeth is probably the best lacrosse player I’ve ever coached, which is saying a lot,” said Stonington coach Jeff Medeiros, who just finished his 14th season.
“She came in as a freshman and told me she wanted to be a low defender. One thing I said to her was that she wouldn’t get a lot of stats and people wouldn’t know what she was doing. She looked at me and said “they’ll know who I am.” She gives 110 percent from the moment the whistle blows,” Medeiros said.
Medeiros said he loved having the 6-foot Morrison at the front of his defense and the senior has “far and away” led the interception statistics Medeiros keeps. While Morrison is willing to play defense and dish off assists she has also scored her share of goals. She finished with 12 as a freshmen and scored 39, 18 and 48 her next three seasons. Morrison assisted on 15 goals as a senior.
“Elizabeth is not greedy at all. She could go down the field and score if we needed her to — she scored four goals in the first half of the final against Granby — in every game she’s an intricate part of our game plan, we built a team around her,” Medeiros said.
Stonington finished the season 21-1.
Cassata’s role for the Bears was to score, score and score some more and that she did. The senior attacking midfielder finished with a career-high 66 goals, the third highest season total in program history. She also had 10 assists. Cassata made a huge jump from 12 goals as a sophomore to 47 as a junior and made another leap this year. She was a first team All-ECC-Small player last season.
“Emily’s goal was to lead the team in goals, so she was successful in that. We have a lot of depth so getting any goal scoring record is hard with that depth. When you have as much talent as we had there aren’t going to be as many opportunities for everyone. Her two goals late in the Granby game were basically the nail in the coffin,” Medeiros said.
The Stonington coach said Cassata has put in as much offseason work as anyone he’s coached and it shows on the field.
“This is a girl who works very hard at the games she loves. She puts in a lot of time in the offseason and every year she comes back dramatically better than the year before. She has the drive to be good which puts her on another level,” Medeiros said.
Sieczkiewicz, a midfielder, improved on her 47-goal first- team All-ECC junior year by scoring 60 goals this season while handing out 13 assists. According to Medeiros, Granby marked Sieczkiewicz in the championship game after she netted five goals in the semifinal round including the game-winner with 1.7 seconds lefts.
“Right from her freshmen season you could see something was there with Jenny. She has a very deceitful shot, the way it carries is tough for goalies to see. She has a quick release and the goalies can’t see it or pick it up. A lot of time from the sideline it looks like her shot doesn’t have a chance but she sneaks it in.
“Jenny has scored some big goals in big games. She only had one goal against Granby, but it was an answer-back type of goal. She’s maybe the fastest player on the team and takes a lot of draws, she has so many things to do and is constantly going during the game,” Medeiros said.
Johnson, an attacker, made first team All-ECC Small and Medeiros said the sophomore earned the team’s most improved player award, an honor which the coach gives out. After playing in the center a year ago, Medeiros moved Johnson to a home position, closer to the goal. Johnson got into the mix in the new position and responded with 38 goals and 12 assists.
“I noticed Hannah’s catching and throwing skills had improved and felt she would be more dangerous by the net. We didn’t know how she would fit in but when she got her opportunities she didn’t miss them.
“If you pass her the ball in the middle she won’t miss it, most of the time, and she can put them in once she catches is,” Medeiros said.
Johnson scored just two goals as a freshman and the postseason honor is her first.
“Hannah was our rookie of the year last year and we had high hopes that she would fill in some of the spots that we were missing and she did. That was a big help for us and I think next year she can be even better,” Medeiros said.
Courtney, a defender, caps her career with her first postseason honor. Courtney played one side of Stonington’s zone defense and managed to chip in four goals and four assists on top of her defensive responsibilities.
“Celeste had a really good year. She stands behind two 6-footers so you don’t always see her back there. Elizabeth was first for interceptions, but Courtney was right there in a battle between two or three players for second place in interceptions. I think we can say we had the best defense in Class S. I said it during the season, but now I think it’s written in stone. The biggest part of that defense is the three front girls and Celeste is one side of that whole thing. I pushed pretty hard for her to get first team All-ECC,” Medeiros said.
Medeiros didn’t miss out on the postseason awards bonanza either.
The Class S state championship and near perfect season caught the attention of the other Connecticut coaches and Medeiros was named Class S coach of the year.
“I think all the other coaches vote on it (not just Class S) but I’m not sure,” Medeiros said. “I found out through an email.
“I kind of had a feeling like I was going to get it. After the season we had, I thought I might even be a shoo-in for it.”
Medieros said the 2014 season was a far cry from what the team was when he took over as coach 14 years ago.
“Looking back, I really didn’t think something like this would have been possible. We’ve really turned the corner as a program and it’s really a credit to the girls more than anything.
“I’ve been on cloud nine since we won with everyone calling and congratulating me and everything that’s been written. This award is just the icing on the cake.”
Stonington outscored the opposition 340-129 this season.
Muller scored the game-tying and go-ahead goal in the championship and finished with 39 goals and three assists on her way to her honorable mention ECC-Small.
Muller has the hardest shot on the team other than Morrison, according to her coach, and excels at penalty shots. This was a breakout year for Muller, who scored 10 goals a year ago.
Calmar, a defender, earns her first postseason honor for lacrosse. Medeiros said Calmar is deceptively quick for being 6-foot and is in amazing shape. Calmar was able to display her ability to get into the attack this season and finished with 13 goals and 10 assists. Medeiros said Calmar’s height, alongside Morrison, helped make Stonington’s defense intimidating and difficult to get past.