DOVER — Three years ago, the Archmere girls lacrosse team had a very successful regular season, going 12-3. Their campaign ended in the quarterfinals of the state tournament at Tower Hill School.
Caroline Donovan scored three times against the Hillers that day. She was joined on the varsity by fellow freshmen Kate Olsen, Lauren Ross and Jennifer Olsen. The junior varsity squad, which was undefeated, was — with the exception of two sophomores — all freshmen, including Lindsey Nolen, Tullis Liu, Meghan Reilly, Grace Vari and Ally Ewing.
This group of players, who were joined on the varsity by Lexie Maloy in 2018, wrapped up their high school careers on May 23 in the state championship game. And although they lost to Cape Henlopen, 15-8, they graduated having done something no other Auks team had. They reached the title match, and that will stick with them.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” Jennifer Olsen said. “We’ve worked so hard every other year, and to finally make it. This year, we were all so close, and we knew how each other played. We really wanted to make it because we knew we could, and our coaches knew that we could. We all believed in each other.”
The team has forged strong bonds over the years, Donovan said after the title game, the second-place trophy securely in her hands.
“It’s really hard to walk away from this. Some of us have played all four years together. Jen, Kate and I have played club together for the past four years, and this team made us the players we are today,” she said. Donovan will continue playing in college at William & Mary.
The 2019 Auks opened the season with seven straight wins before falling to Cape Henlopen, the same team that would get them again in the final. The Vikings, winners now of 11 straight state championships, won that Saturday afternoon in April by six goals, which was their smallest margin of victory against Delaware opponents.
Archmere rebounded with a come-from-behind victory four days later at Newark Charter, clinching the Diamond State Athletic Conference title in mid-April and guaranteeing themselves a spot in the state tournament. They would win five of their remaining six games, four of which were against teams that made the state tournament.
Over the last four seasons, this group of seniors has a composite record of 55-13, including state tournament play. They reached the semifinals their sophomore and junior years, and the trip to the final came this year. Donovan said she hopes she and her teammates can help a future generation of lacrosse players.
“There are a lot of opportunities in the future where we can give back, and I hope that everybody does because without this program, I probably wouldn’t be going to play Division I lacrosse, so I’m grateful for everything that they’ve done for me,” she said.
Some of those who helped mentor Donovan and her classmates were in the stands at Dover High School on May 23. Olsen, who will be playing at Catholic University of America, said the players noticed the support from their families, schoolmates and alumni.
“To see the support and the alumni here really makes you want to play harder and for them. It’s amazing for them to be all the way down here for us.”
She also sees a bright future for Archmere girls lacrosse despite all the talent that is graduating this year.
“We will start to build up next year; we’ll have a relatively young program compared to other teams. But in years to come, I think it will really become stronger and stronger. In a couple of years, I think it will be as strong as it is now,” Olsen said.