Christina Ricciuti has become quite the expert at fighting boredom, sitting back and watching as her Sherwood High School teammates run their dizzying offense around helpless defenses. Ricciuti, however, is no benchwarmer. She’s just the goalie on a team that ensures her job is as monotonous as they come.
“I’ve definitely not been getting as much action as I thought,” said the keeper, who has allowed just seven goals on the year compared to 52 in Sherwood’s favor. “But that’s a good thing. I’m really happy with the way our defense has been shaping up.”
So how is it that the senior goalie keeps her mind from wandering while Emily Kenul and Gabrielle Yore blast away at the opposing net 90 yards downfield? Well, it took her a year to really get it down. But now she has turned into part coach, part goalie, always keeping an eye out for what the Warriors could be doing better and what they can learn from other teams.
“Even when the ball is on the other side of the field, I just learned to stay focused,” she said. “I’m always looking for things that can be improved upon. It took a few games into the season, but I’ve gotten used to it.”
It would be difficult not to be used to it at this point. Sherwood was the county’s most potent offense a year ago with Kenul (seven multi-goal games) and Yore’s county-leading 26 goals as the Warriors ran away with an undefeated regular season. This year has been no different. Quince Orchard is the only school to come within one goal of Sherwood, which is outscoring opponents on an average of nearly four goals per game. Thus far, Long Reach is the only one to sneak more than one goal past Ricciuti (3), and the Warriors still left with a comfortable 7-3 win.
“It’s definitely really comforting,” Ricciuti said of having such a torrid offense. “Even when sometimes we let a goal in, it’s not that scary because I know we can just turn around in score in less than a minute.”
In fact, according to coach Amy Morse, Kenul once took a ball down the entire length of the field and scored in 18 seconds.
“That’s the thing with this team is that even if we get scored on we can get that back right away,” Morse said. “They thrive off of pressure and they know that, they recognize that. They have this mentality, ‘get it right back,’ and that’s hard to coach.”
Morse has been preaching urgency inside the shooting circle all year and the results speak for themselves. Kenul has already eclipsed her 2012 total of seven multi-goal games, highlighted by a season-high four goals against Long Reach (she outscored the Lightning by herself), while Yore has added six multi-goal games, including three hat tricks. According to the Washington Post, each half of the duo ranks in the top five in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia region in goals scored, with Kenul checking in at third (24) and Yore fifth (19).
“We really just have a lot of passion and really like to get out on top early,” said Kenul, who verbally committed to play lacrosse for Johns Hopkins University last spring. “I just try to help the team get ahead.”
With her and Yore up top, the team is quite literally never behind, or at least not for long. Col. Zadok Magruder scored first in a Sept. 30 tilt. Just minutes later the Warriors were on the board. By the end of the game, they had dismantled the Colonels 5-1 for their sixth victory by at least four goals in eight games.
“There’s a chemistry between the two of them that’s hard to beat,” Morse said. “They read each other so well and can predict each other’s moves and the other girls are learning how to read each other. They click and they both have so much speed. No team can really stick with them.”
The Warriors’ regular season comes to a close tonight in a highly anticipated matchup with No. 3 Walter Johnson. Then it’s off to the playoffs, where a year ago Sherwood was unexpectedly doused early on by Walt Whitman.
“It was almost like we lost steam,” Kenul said.
Keeping that steam will be paramount to the Warriors ending their 28-year playoff drought. And keeping Ricciuti bored.