St. Joe's Gray putting girls lacrosse players in position to win

Mia Geignetter, Izzy Casucci, Ryan Camiglio and Samantha Miller are team captains for coach Leeland Gray.

Mia Geignetter, Izzy Casucci, Ryan Camiglio and Samantha Miller are team captains for coach Leeland Gray.

St. Joseph Athletics / Contributed photo

Coach Leeland Gray called this year’s team “the best stick-skilled group I’ve coached” but added that his Cadets will need time to grow.

“Half the team hasn’t played a game since junior high school two years ago,” said Gray, now in his fifth season. “We are getting to know each other, figuring out the different pieces of the puzzle. We have an intelligent bunch.”

St. Joseph is 3-1 on the season.

Gray, assisted by Annie McNeil, is learning which players in the attack zone may be better top dodging or working in a three-player wheel around the crease.

“We are getting close to figuring it out. It takes a few weeks to get a set rotation. We have three starting seniors, so we are a young team,” he said.

Team captains Mia Geignetter, Izzy Casucci, Ryan Camiglio and Samantha Miller bring leadership to all areas of the field.

“Last year was the first year I’ve had a non-senior captain with Izzy Casucci, who has committed to Marquette University,” Gray said. “Mia Geignetter, on the defensive side, is another junior captain. She is being looked at by a couple of DIII teams. Izzy handles the offense. Sam Miller, our senior goalie who is committed to Hartwick, and Mia lead the defense. Ryan Camiglio is a piece of the puzzle on offense.”

Maddigan Leifer scored in overtime to give St. Joe’s an 11-10 win at Trumbull on Saturday.

Gray said: “Maddigan is a junior and missing out on a season (COVID pandemic) impacts recruiting, but she will be a Division III player. Maddigan has a non-stop engine and I’m looking forward to this season. She will really bloom.”

Offsetting the excitement of winning in overtime was 30 turnovers, an amount Gray terms the worst he’s seen at St. Joe’s.

“I’m going to look at that as opportunity, 30 opportunities to score 30 more goals.,” he said. “Against Danbury (win) and Ridgefield, we had around 15 turnovers.”

Giving up possession can be contagious.

“One kid drops the ball and the next player drops the ball. Then you add in the pressure from the other team and you scramble,” Gray said. “Every year, we have a game like that. Trumbull has an athletic team and their new coach (Marissa Mongillo) is doing a great job. I am looking to playing them again in a couple of weeks (May 1) to see what adjustments we can make and show improvement.”

Gray praised his midfield players.

“Izzy Casucci plays center midfielder, Maddigan Leifer is left middie and Autumn Murphy is doing a great job at center attack as a junior,” he said. “We have freshman Casey Mayglothling at right middie on top. She is going to be a great player. With Olivia Badeaux, those five players work well at top. On attack we have Katie Miller and Hannah Siljamaki and freshman Meghan Hoynes.”

Gray broke down the defense.

“All the middies come back on defense side. Senior Sydney Leifer is doing a great job at on defense as backer. In addition, we have Bella Molnar at low post right. A sophomore, she is very intelligent, with great field sense,” he said. “Against Trumbull we started sophomore Olivia Jenkins and she did a great job. We primarily run a backer’s own defense. It takes a while to teach the kids, once they get it runs like a machine.”

Gray is happy with the start but knows what lies ahead.

“We are the only not L Class team playing in the FCIAC, so we have Darien, Wilton, Staples, Greenwich, Ludlowe, Warde coming up,” he said. “The goal is to get into states in the M Class.”

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