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Norwood - Local Town Pages

Norwood Girls Lacrosse Netting More Wins

By Christopher Tremblay
A little over four years ago, Norwood girls’ lacrosse was looking for help, specifically from a coach. The Mustangs had been playing sub .500 lacrosse and as the season loomed closer, they were without a mentor to guide the team on the field. Mike Lodge, whose daughter was a freshman in the high school and a lacrosse player, eventually threw his name into the hat.
“I didn’t want the program to go away and I would have much rather watched my daughter and friends play the game sitting on the sideline with my wife instead of coaching,” Lodge said. “Originally, Jon (Longley, the Norwood Athletic Director) didn’t want a parent as a coach, but eventually he reluctantly hired me.”
That first season was totally different in terms of the coaching staff Lodge put together. Ex-Mustang Sammy Hayes was his assistant with Shannon Gillis as the Junior Varsity Coach while Krissy Pessa was an unpaid coach. Unfortunately, after that first season, Hayes and Gillis had too much going on with school and jobs that they couldn’t give Norwood the time they needed so they both stepped away. 
According to Lodge, a Ms. Danner stepped in to help him out and he was ever so grateful. He noted that its tough trying to run both a varsity and junior varsity program at once by yourself; she was a huge help.
During that second season, Norwood was able to qualify for the state tournament for the first time in school history. It was a play-in game and a loss, but nonetheless the Mustangs had ventured into the State Tournament. Last year, the Mustangs once again made it to the State Tournament, this time with a higher seeding, but still was unable to grab a win. 
This year, in Lodge’s final season as the Mustangs head coach, Norwood was once again able to earn themselves a spot in the State Tournament. Under the guidance of Lodge, Norwood not only made their first ever appearance in the State Tournament, they did it three straight seasons and this year they were also able to capture their first ever win. Norwood defeated Amherst-Pelham 14-10 for their schools’ first tournament victory. Longley has been with Norwood for around 10 years and has not seen a Norwood girls lacrosse team win on the State level and he believes that this is the first ever but is not totally sure. Unfortunately, their next opponent was number two seed Walpole and the Rebels sent them packing.
Lodge believes that this year’s success was due to goal differential. In the past, the Mustangs were getting blown out, but this year he had the girls working hard and the team was keeping games closer.
Leading the charge once again this season were the Olivias; Olivia Lodge and Olivia Naughton. Both girls are going to continue to play lacrosse next season on the collegiate level. Naughton will be attending Division 3 Springfield College and Lodge will be going to Division 1 University of Akron. Lodge has also coached a third lacrosse layer from Norwood in Caroline Dave who is currently playing the sport at Stonehill.
Naughton has recorded back-to-back 40-plus goals seasons for the Mustangs and finished her career with 130 goals, 35 assists, and 165 points. Lodge has put up back-to back 100-point seasons for Norwood recording 91 goals, 34 assists, and 125 points this year, and 242 goals, 88 assists, and 330 points for her career.
“Both girls increased their scoring number each and every season and took on the heavy lifting for us,” the coach said. “Being club players and senior captains, this was their sport and they were more than willing to lead this team.”
In addition to the senior captains, other seniors to play for the Mustangs and their historical season were Julia Gallo, Emily O’Connor, Katie Pritchard, and Jess Zammito. 
Sophia Venditti, a senior defender, was named the team’s most improved player last season and this year was coveted with the Coaches Award. According to the Norwood coach, midway through last season her confidence started to rise and she began to run the team’s defense. She became a great communicator and a phenomenal player despite never having picked up a lacrosse stick until her freshman season.
The junior class at Norwood has been touted as the most talented athletes in the school and Lodge was blessed to have a handful of them play on the lacrosse team, including middies Shae Larkee, Bridget Sople, and Emily Spadorcia. 
Larkee netted 50 goals this season. Lodge noted that the junior exploded on the scene this year returning to her old self after being injured last season. Sople is a complete player that was great in the draw circle and helped the offense to get moving in the right direction. She could also find the back of the net when needed. Spadorcia was not featured in the stat column but did all the little things that helped the team get to the States. She was also strong in the circle and her game evolved throughout her career. 
Other juniors on the squad were Evann O’Neil, Micaela Brown, and Charlotte Martino. Joann Yamoah was the team’s only sophomore while MacKenzie Conley, Megan Molloy, Madison Doucette, and Maddy Sople were some of the freshmen to grace the roster. 
Norah Staunton and Quin Brown are two other freshmen who made the Norwood team, both with club experience, and along with first year goalie Ally Mannering, the team should be able to continue to move forward in the future. The freshman goalie has the momentum and energy to play the position and along with Pessa, who played the position in high school and college, teaching her should be ready to take her game to the next level come next spring. Mannering also recorded a phenomenal 162 saves during her first varsity season.
“This has been the most successful and competitive team at Norwood in such a long time,” Lodge said. “They gave so much energy and effort to the season and were such a close group that got along well. They have a bright future with a very talented group of freshman athletes as well as some youth program and club team players that will be looking to join the team next year.”