The story of the 2022 Bedford High School girls’ lacrosse team’s remarkable senior corps began more than four years ago when seven of them made the cut for varsity—while still attending John Glenn Middle School.
Eighth-graders Anna Luongo, Abby Morrissey, Sophie Morrissey, Grace Sepe, Astrid Yerardi, Shannon Young, and Allie Zorn held their own as starters against more experienced, more mature athletes.
A year later the Buccaneers qualified for their first MIAA post-season competition, losing in the opening round. “It was such a wonderful season—we won more than half of our games,” recalled Head Coach Nikki Lespasio, who was an assistant coach on that squad. “Every season we learned a little bit more and tried to apply it to the next year.”
Last year they won their second-round game at home reaching the Division 2 Elite Eight. And in 2022, the Bucs became legendary. Those seniors, bolstered along the way by Grace Babington, Isabella Seldon, and Katherine Vaughan—plus key freshmen, sophomores, and juniors—reached the highest echelon: the Division 2 state championship game.
Only one other team sport—boys’ or girls—has reached the state championship game in the annals of BHS.
“The core has left an impact on this program,” Lespasio said. “It all starts at the youth program and then builds up over four years. We were very fortunate that this group been playing together for four-plus years , and very inviting and accepting and willing to incorporate any new girls.”
The 2022 season was “the best lacrosse we could have shown,” Lespasio said, including a come-from-behind win over Acton -Boxborough, a victory at Concord-Carlisle, some wins over Division 1 schools. “There was a lot going on in those three months, a lot that defined us, and a whole of season to get us to where we ended up.
The campaign ended with disappointment – as it aways does for every team that make the post-season except one. The girls faced top-ranked Notre Dame Academy of Hingham, and trailed the powerhouse program by four scores, 5-1, at the break,
Then the Cougars unleashed a fusillade, outscoring Bedford 9-1 over the second half on their way to an emphatic win in the state championship game.
“The scoreboard didn’t reflect how they played, and how every single girl in a blue uniform that day put her full heart and soul into the game for a full 50 minutes,” the coach declared. “You can’t ask for more than that.”
Notre Dame this year dropped to Division 2 after a change in MIAA enrollment boundaries; the Cougars were Division 1 state champions a few years ago.
“They have multiple coaches who were able to go and scout and probably watch film,” Lespasio said. Once her team defeated Wayland, she said, she had less than four days to do that research – find film to watch, talk to opposing coaches.
“Given the preparation we had, we did the best we could,” Lespasio said. “I could not be more proud of them. At the end, I said I was sad the scoreboard couldn’t reflect more of their effort. They left everything out there with no regrets.” She added, “We learned a lot from that game – every game is a learning opportunity.”
Lespasio, who played varsity lacrosse at BHS between 2007 and 2010, said the size of the senior contingent was significant. And so was the attitude.
“Spring sports are tough, especially when you’re seniors and your priorities are in different places,” the coach reflected. But her program was fortified by “this big, solid group that was here from start to finish. That was something very special, and I hope the underclassmen look up to that.”
Even so, she pointed out, “We still barely had enough for two teams,” and she often needed to promote two junior varsity players for a full varsity contingent.
“The seniors have left quite an impact and I hope underclassmen and the youth program see the potential we have,” Lespasio continued. “It was not just a dream; it was our reality. The future is very bright with a big thanks to the varsity – it was a full program effort.”
“Everyone wanted to see everyone in the program succeed,” Lespasio continued. “People were fighting for starting positions at the start f the season but in a compassionate fashion. The decisions weren’t made based on popularity but on what was best for this program. Having them understand that was huge. They were helping each other out when one of them had a bad play. Everyone wanted to see everyone in the program succeed.”
“Something I tried to reiterate was this is more than just high-school girls lacrosse. We are bringing this community together,” the coach affirmed. “It was much bigger than the sport; the community showed up. We had huge crowds, home and away. It was humbling to know that many people wanted to come out and support this little program.”
In the finals, the team felt the support of the entire Dual County League, the coach noted.
Lespasio acknowledged feeling mixed emotions. She is “definitely sad that it’s over but happy to have been where we were. There wasn’t anywhere else to go after this game.”
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763