The success of the Riverview High girls lacrosse team this season makes sense — mostly.
The Rams (9-1) lost one senior from last season, and coach Ashley McCloud said the returnees have matured. Her players put in the work required to take the next step after a 13-11 loss to The Out-of-Door Academy in the district championship last season. Senior leading scorer Veronica McCurdy is still producing, tallying 46 points in six games, and senior Marisa Souchak has offered strong support, with 25 points in 10 games. The defense, led by senior Sophie Goodwin, has also been stingy.
McCloud said the team is versatile, not only in terms of position but depth, with each class having contributors. McCloud pointed out freshmen Riley Spingler (midfield), Melanie Green (attack) and Alana Sotolongo (defense) as examples of this.
There was one hole left to fill at the season’s beginning, though, and that was in goal. To do so, McCloud turned to the unlikeliest of places.
Senior Lindsay Kaighin, a midfielder who started playing lacrosse as a sophomore, had never played goaltender in her life. Kaighin, also a former basketball player, missed her junior lacrosse season because of an ACL tear she suffered on the hardwood. She recovered in time for this preseason, when McCloud approached her and asked if she had any interest in switching to goalie. Since she was trying more or less to relearn lacrosse anyway, she agreed.
“I thought it would be a cool position to try,” Kaighin said. “So I did, and I rolled with it. I enjoy it.”
She’s found immediate success in the role, holding opponents to less than 10 goals in eight of 10 games. As for why, Kaighin compared the position to playing point guard in basketball. Both require players to take control of the game and command not only where the ball goes but where teammates should be positioned. She feels comfortable with that aspect. Leadership has always come naturally.
The balls flying at her face? That was a bit more challenging, but “with pads on, it’s not so bad,” she said.
Kaighin approaches the position like someone with a background in midfield. She’s aggressive, she said, and if she sees an opportunity to advance the ball, she’ll take it. She’s even tried a few “coast to coasts,” where goalies shoot on the opposing team, but she has yet to score on one.
She’ll keep trying though, since she has the full support of her coaches and teammates.
“She’s a wild card,” Goodwin said of Kaighin, with a smile. “It’s cool to have an aggressive goalie. I’m never afraid if she has the ball, and she isn’t either. She can push it or chuck it, and our coaches let her do that. It’s nice to know that our coaches have confidence in her as well.”
McCloud added that Kaighin has been “crazy good, especially for her first year,” and that she has been a motivational leader in the locker room, bringing kids up on the rare occasions the team has felt down.
Kaighin did score in practice, doing it one memorable time from her own goalie circle in her first week on the job, winning the team a “musical practice” the next day. Kaighin jogged with a speaker in the net of her goalie stick as the team warmed up to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” Migos’ “Stir Fry” and songs from Disney’s “High School Musical” movies. An eclectic mix for an eclectic team, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Everyone has each other’s backs,” Kaighin said. “It’s really exciting how we all get behind a common goal. When we can goof around off the field, it’s an indicator of how well that (chemistry) will translate on the field as well.”
Riverview has two more games, against Calvary Christian High and Lakewood Ranch High, before the playoffs begin on April 18.
Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.