The Canfield High School girls lacrosse team may have humble beginnings, but the Cardinals have grown fond of their endeavor.

“It was difficult [to learn a new sport],” senior Sarah Green said after Monday’s 13-3 win over Boardman. “All of the girls are driven to learn.

“We really wanted to learn. [The seniors] started playing as sophomores,” she said. “It’s an interesting sport. We all fell in love with it.’

The Cardinals (4-6) are growing into their sport quite well.

“We all struggle,” Green said. “We help each other learn. I learned from the older girls and I try to help the younger ones. Everyone makes an effort to help everyone else the best they can.

“We all have the drive to be better, become a better team. It’s a special sport. Not many girls in Northeast Ohio do it. That makes us unique. Everyone plays softball or baseball. Not everyone can say they play lacrosse.”

Isabella Kelty netted four goals while Tara Santoro had three. Shiane Donnarummno had a pair while Green, Mia Malvasi, Ashley Thompson and Olivia Vandevender all chipped in with one for the Cardinals.

“What makes these girls fun is the camaraderie,” Canfield coach MeLynda Guerrieri said. “They want the best for everyone else.

“This is our third year and it hasn’t always been that way,” Guerrieri said. “It’s not just something that’s said on the sideline. You saw it. It happens. The older girls take it seriously. It’s what they call the lacrosse culture. They have to pass it down and give their knowledge to the other players.”

For that to happen, and for it to be successful, the Cardinals have to be able to trust one another.

“We have team dinners and do a lot of bonding activities,” Guerrieri said. “It builds a lot of trust. In this sport, if they make a long pass, they have to know their someone is going to catch it.

“If they don’t, they can’t get mad at each other. They need to know they can count on one another. We have dinners, bonding nights, we watch film and have bonfires. The more they trust each other, the more they play together. Canfield is big enough as a school that they don’t know everyone.”

The Canfield program began because Guerrieri’s daughter wanted to play and now includes 40 girls in the high school program and a middle school program for girls in grades three through eight.

“I teach at Canfield as well,” Guerrieri said. “My daughter wanted to play. We took them to a couple of boys clinics. We had 30 girls and started in a backyard.

“This wouldn’t be possible without the Canfield school board. The first year, we were a club sport. They didn’t have to take us on as a school team [but] they did and we really appreciate it.”

Boardman (0-8) started their program at about the same time and is still building. The Spartans, though, have shown coach Matt Pavone they can succeed.

“Though they struggle as a team, they have a willingness to not give up,” he said. “They enjoy life and see how to play the game and how to become good at it.”

Paige Jankowski scored twice for the Spartans and Priya Shah netted the third goal.

“Our girls at the beginning of a season are just learning the basics,” Pavone said. “Other teams we play have girls who play all the time. We’re trying to get everyone up and going.”

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