CRANFORD – Despite graduating its leading scorer from last season, the Cranford High School girls’ lacrosse team saw a two-win improvement.
In 2017, the Cougars finished 6-11. Jeannie Padden had a team-high 45 goals to go along with 21 assists. Right behind her though was Grace Power with 43 goals and 16 assists.
This year, Cranford improved to 8-9, and it was Power who led the way with 53 goals and 30 assists. Power, just a sophomore, had a supporting cast of seniors Abby Ganley who had 47 goals and 24 assists, and Maggie Roman who tallied 43 goals and 11 assists, along with fellow sophomore Alyssa Gesslein who recorded 37 goals and 21 assists, and junior goalie Anna Horne.
In what was the most celebrated game of the year, a 14-2 victory over Morris Hills, Horne recorded her 500th career save and Roman notched her 100th career goal.
Power, just a few goals away from her 100th, will most likely reach that milestone in the season opener next year.
Head coach Samantha Berk just completed her third season at the helm, but has seen this senior class play since they were freshman. Berk, before tasking over as head coach, served as a volunteer coach the year prior.
“I’ve actually known them even longer than coaching. I taught them in middle school,” said Berk. “To see them go from these little girls into seniors is just crazy. It does make it very special to see the growth from freshman year to senior year. I think just having that consistency in the program makes it become such a strong unit and family.”
Along with Ganley and Roman, the Cougars will graduate Laura Feeney, Caroline Kelly, Brooke Mason, Lucia Rinaldi, and Brittany Triano. Coach Berk expects Horne, Power, and Gesslein to continue to improve, and for other returning players and incoming freshmen to replace the voids left by the seniors.
“I just know that there is an extreme amount of potential with this team,” said Berk. “If they continue what we have going, I think there’s so much good that can happen. There are a lot of good eighth graders coming in, along with a strong seventh grade class. There’s going to be a lot of growth in the next two years, and hopefully that spikes our program into the next step.”