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Nipmuc Girls LAX finishes strong regular season

The Nipmuc girls’ lacrosse team huddles during a recent game. Photo source: Coach Grace Merten

NRHS improved greatly from 2023 campaign despite key injury

By Chris Villani

The Nipmuc girls’ lacrosse team won a lot more matches than it lost through the regular season and, even in the few setbacks the team had, head coach Grace Merten said the improvement was palpable. Losses that had come by double-digits a season ago were close games that came down to the wire.

“We really closed the gap on some of those higher level games where we weren’t as competitive last year,” Merten said. “We also toughened up our schedule with Medway, Lexington, Oliver Ames, just to get some more high stakes games before states.”

One of Nipmuc’s biggest setbacks this spring was the loss of star midfielder Liz Lange to an ankle injury. But the loss afforded other players the chance to shine, including co-captain Fallon Lozano.

“She was a great leader before, but she has stepped up into an even bigger leadership position since Liz was also one of our biggest leaders,” Merten said.

Maria Ceruti has shown her ability to guide her teammates on defense. Merten described her as a “very gritty” player whose vocal style draws a response from the rest of the team.

Paige Anderson and Jade Munoz are two more players who Merten credited for stepping up and helping Nipmuc to a stellar 17-4 regular season record. Sophomore Jayden Lilburn is one of the program’s young talents.

“She is a sophomore on the attack and she takes our draws,” Merten said. “She put in a lot of work in the offseason, and you can tell it’s really paying off for her.”

“The fact that the kids were able to compete after Liz broke her ankle speaks volumes to the kind of team we were going to be,” Merten said, adding that she had high expectations at the start of the season.

“We knew that, coming into this year, this was going to be our year,” the coach said. “They are a very strong team and we have a lot of young talent. Similar to last year, our biggest competition was us: we had to learn to mature and play in those high stakes games.”

Heading into the postseason, Merten said the team’s goal is simply to make it as far as possible.

“I think we have the potential to do it, we just have to be in the right mental state,” she said, adding that working with a sports psychologist has helped the girls focus on playing hard for one another. 

“If you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for your teammates,” Merten said.