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Norwood - Local Town Pages

Norwood Girls Lacrosse Finally Earns a Tournament Berth

By Christopher Tremblay
It has been 10 plus years since the Norwood girl’s lacrosse team last ventured into tournament play. With the new ranking system, the Mustangs were able to grab the 32nd seed in the Division 2 State Tournament, but unfortunately were sent home in the preliminary round with a 16-12 loss to Melrose. 
This past season’s senior quad-captains had prepared themselves for this moment since they first stepped foot onto the Norwood High School field. Hope Ford, Sam Reen, and Ally Steeves were all part of the process from their freshman campaign, while Maddy Barry joined the others last year as a junior. 
The foursome had entered last spring with the lacrosse team as a rebounding season where a majority of the girls would once again take to the field as seniors this year. 
“We basically had the same team coming back and we wanted to put all our skills together this season while learning as much of the game as we could to be successful,” Ford said.
Prior to the season getting underway, the captains had a meeting to establish what they wanted to accomplish this year.
“We not only wanted to be a more serious team, but we also wanted to play cohesively and make it into the tournament,” Steeves said.
The seriousness on the field had been lacking at Norwood for some time as the team just wasn’t that good and its past players were not there to win but just have fun. Reen noted that in the past the girls were not taking the game seriously and then when Covid shut down their sophomore season they knew that they needed to start rebuilding. Norwood now has a team with a lot of different skill levels and they wanted to integrate them into a system that would be successful. 
“In the past Norwood girl’s lacrosse was not thought of highly so the girls never seemed to take the game seriously,” Barry said.
Ford added that there was no real push to win. However, the four captains were not looking to go out with another lackluster season; they were all competitors who came from other sports at the high school that were winning, and they wanted to have a season where they not only tried hard, but one in which they would change the girl’s lacrosse atmosphere forever.
By advancing into the state tournament for the first time in over 10-years, the Norwood girls lacrosse program has changed the footprint of the curriculum. Although they were awarded a home game in the tournament, Norwood’s home field was being ripped up and the squad lost its home field advantage and was forced to play on the road. 
Having not made the tournament in some time the captains had set the goal of getting there this year, but by doing so they didn’t feel like they put a lot of added weight on their shoulders.
“That goal didn’t put any pressure on us at all,” Reen said. “It was a goal that was just holding everyone accountable while bringing intensity to the field.”
Ford agreed with her teammates assessment.
“We were not like the other captains, we cared deeply about this team, and we really wanted to win,” Ford said. “Getting into the tournament was really important to us, especially with the new ranking system. We started to compete against teams (Dover-Sherborn and Holliston) that used to kill us. They thought we were easy wins, but when we played them close this year, they started to get nervous.”
Prior to the way they played this year, Norwood first ran into a lot of different issues that made them stronger, the first being the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down their sophomore season. Having already lost the end of the playoffs in the winter season, the four captains knew what they were up against, they just didn’t think it would come to fruition.
“We thought that we would eventually get our (lacrosse) season back and everything would be normal once again,” Barry said. “When they finally cancelled the season, we felt ripped off.”
Ford continued the sentiment.
“I didn’t want to lose our season and even after it was cancelled, I still went to the field to practice and treated it like it was coming back,” she said. 
Reen added that it crushed the teams hopes and by fully cancelling the season it also made Covid feel that much more real. Although the season was cancelled, the girls were not allowing the pandemic to dictate their season and continued to run a lot so that they would be ready. Steeves even went as far to say that they probably worked harder during the quarantine than they did in practice. 
With those health obstacles gone and teams were able to get back onto the fields last year, the girls knew that being away from the sport for over a year things were going to be different. Their junior year was going to be a rebuilding year where they had to relearn everything. 
Prior to the season, the girls played in an achieve league in Canton to get themselves ready. Not only was it the first time that they had picked up their sticks in some time, they were also playing a much more competitive lacrosse against girls that play year round.
Not only were the Mustangs reacquainting themselves with the sport, they were also getting themselves a new coach in Mike Lodge. 
“Coach Lodge had a lot to do with my playing lacrosse last year,” Barry said. “I had originally thought about playing in my freshman year, but the girls on the team convinced me otherwise, telling me to stay away as the team was a joke.”
Although things were not all that great in the past, Coach Lodge seemed to bring a sense of integrity to the game.
“You could see that he wanted to rebuild the program,” Steeves said. “He also incorporated the Norwood Youth Lacrosse Program with the high school and there was a lot of bonding with the younger lacrosse players who will hopefully play for Norwood in the future.”
Coming into their final season at playing NHS lacrosse, the Norwood captains believe they’ve accomplished everything that they set out to do. 
“You can’t turn a program around overnight,” Barry said. 
While they didn’t turn things around completely, the Mustang captains know that they set the wheels in motion and the team is now in a much better place than they were a few years earlier.
“Coming into the year we knew that anything could happen,” Ford said. “We were always a bad team, but once we started winning things began to change in our minds.”
“It wasn’t guaranteed that we were going to start winning,” Reen said. “But if anything, Covid showed us that you can’t take things for granted and being able to play an abbreviated season in our junior year and then to do what we did this year – you fully appreciate it all.”
Although it is the end of the road in terms of lacrosse for the four Norwood players, they understand how special this past season was, especially in turning the program in the right direction.
Photo courtesy of 
Coach Mike Lodge