by Tom Utescher

Seen here launching a shot in the second half of the Hill School game, SCH senior Carly Schwartz (right) was one of four players who scored three or more goals in the Lions’ come-from-behind victory. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

On the cusp of their spring break last week, the lacrosse Lions of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy started their season with a pair of high-scoring wins at home, topping the Lady Rams of Hill School on Wednesday, 16-11, and then dispatching the Academy of the New Church, 16-4, the following afternoon.

The Lions were on more solid footing going into this season than they’d been a year earlier, when they were coping with the loss of a total of 11 players from their 2010 squad, including three NCAA Division I signees. This time the team was filling just two vacancies, although one was created by Hilary McDonnell, a multiple letter-winner in goal.

As the Hill School game got underway, the Lions soon found themselves staring up at a potential opening-day blow-out as they fell behind, 6-0. The SCH goalie with the most lacrosse experience, eighth-grader Elsa Rall, was out with an injury, and the starting keeper was junior Shelby Jackson, an impressive athlete, but one who has just switched to lacrosse from softball this year.

With its early surge, Hill probably felt a sense of reassurance, having lost eight 2011 starters, including a Duke University recruit. However, SCH’s Jackson soon settled down and got a couple of stops against the Lady Rams, and the home crowd noticed that the rest of the team seemed to rally around their goalie. Senior Libbie Maine led the way with a hat trick as the Lions cut their deficit to two points by halftime, at 8-6.

“Libbie is strong on the draws, and she’s really just a leader all over the field for us,” said second-year SCH coach Lydia Imperiale.

Fellow upperclassmen Carly Schwartz, Ellie Stout, and Casey Sullivan each contributed a goal during the SCH rally late in the first period. Stout and Sullivan are team quad-captains along with Maine and defensive mainstay Erica Schneer. Most of the Lion seniors have yet to make their final college choices; at this point the only one who will definitely be playing lacrosse at the next level is Sullivan, who signed with Lafayette last November.

After going into the halftime break with momentum on their side, the hosts pulled even with Hill at 10-10, then went on to win by five goals. Junior Kitty Morrissey, who has given a verbal commitment to Duke, was coming off an injury and was not close to 100 percent, which made the Lions’ turnaround even more encouraging.

Sullivan paced the attack in the second half with five goals, netting a total of six for the afternoon.

“Libbie is effective with her finesse, while Casey really has a strong, hard drive to the goal,” Imperiale remarked.

Maine finished with four goals, and fellow upperclassmen Schwartz and Stout each came away with a hat trick. Springside Chestnut Hill’s sixth senior is seasoned defender Haley Lombardo.

In the net, Lions junior Jackson made six stops against the Lady Rams, and she duplicated that figure the following day against ANC. SCH didn’t need to make a dramatic comeback this time, as seven different players fired into the New Church sanctuary. Maine scored four goals, and there were hat tricks for Schwartz, Stout, and freshman Francesca Fabiani. Single strikes by Morrissey and fellow 11th-graders Jennie Lukoff and Taylor Wrubel rounded out the total.