Girls lacrosse sticks to motivation


Junior Rachael Rizzi runs with the ball while protecting her stick in a game against DePaul College Prep on April 24. The Spartans lost the game 8-7. Photo by Chase Goldstein

After junior Rachael Rizzi introduced the idea of “stick words” to her lacrosse team, senior Alivia So put a sticker with the word “100%” on her lacrosse stick before the first game of the season.

“It’s one word that will really push you during the season, and [Rizzi] puts them on little plastic stickers and everyone puts it on their stick,” said So. “So when you’re cradling the stick … you can read that word as you’re playing to empower you to move forward.” 

Playing on the varsity lacrosse team is something freshman Mimi Peifer has always dreamed of. 

“This is a very unique experience for me because usually I’m playing with kids my age, but this has given me the ability to play with kids who are not only older than me, but also more skilled than me,” Peifer said.  

Being on the team has been a great experience for Peifer because of her teammates. 

“As soon as I made the team, [my teammates] actually dropped off a small goodie bag to my doorstep and it was really, really nice,” said Peifer. “They also wrote, ‘Welcome to girls lacrosse’ on my driveway with chalk.” 

When leading by 11-0 in the first half of a game against Dunlap on April 15, senior Ella Shmarak, one of the team’s goalies, was put in as a field player and scored. 

“At halftime, [Shmarak] looked at me with another defender of ours and she’s like, ‘Can we attack?’ … she borrowed a stick, borrowed goggles, had her mouthguard and somehow just came around the corner and shot from behind,” said head coach Emma Dirr. “And we were losing it laughing and she fell over and did like a somersault.”

At the start of the season, team captains Rizzi, Shmarak and So emphasized writing goals on notecards because they wanted the team to be more reflective and unified. 

“I think everyone is super excited when we play a game, but it’s hard to target those goals and maybe the weaknesses that you have … but having that notecard gives people a point of reflection,” So said. 

Rizzi leads the Spartans (6-9, 2-4), in scoring with 42 goals, and Peifer and junior Kaylie Adelman are tied for second most goals scored with 25 each as of May 4.   

“I think we have become more of a team,” said So. “Before, we played on our own separately, and we’d get angry and be separated. Now we’re angry, but we talk to each other about how we can grow. So there’s a community now.”