Morgan Dardia is used to high-pressure situations.
As a goaltender for the Barnstable girls’ soccer, Dardia turned away every penalty shot she faced in a Cape & Islands Atlantic Division semifinal against Sandwich last fall, propelling the Red Hawks to a 1-0 shootout victory.
In net for the Barnstable girls’ lacrosse team, she faces up to 30 shots per game, but even under constant bombardment, Dardia does not waiver.
Her calmness under pressure doesn’t end when the whistle blows, however. When an opposing player, Nantucket’s Evelyn Fey, went down in the middle of a May 10 game after taking a knee to the mouth on a draw, Dardia bolted from her crease to come to the aid of the injured player.
She had just completed an EMT course at Cape Cod Community College. And with Barnstable’s athletic trainer on another field tending to another injury, Dardia took control.
“It was one of those things where it’s like, ‘Oh wait, I can help here in this situation,’” Dardia said. “‘I’ve got this now. I know what I’m doing, and I can help.’”
After dressing the wound and making sure that Fey was calm, Dardia returned to the net, backstopping a nail-biting 12-11 victory. That game — the second of the spring season — set the tone for the Red Hawks’ most successful season in recent memory. After a 1-19 finish in 2019, Barnstable finished the 2021 regular season with a 9-1 mark and the C&I Atlantic title.
In the Red Hawks’ only loss — a 7-5 decision against Sandwich — Dardia racked up an astounding 31 saves. In the rematch two weeks later, she tallied 23 saves, this time leading her squad to a 13-5 victory.
“She keeps our team going when we start to get down and the other team gets a lot of shots off, but we know she’s back there not letting anything in, so we know she’s there for us,” said Heather Hanson, Dardia’s best friend and a fellow senior captain.
Hanson and Dardia met the summer before eighth grade at a junior lifeguard course. That lifeguard training stuck for Dardia, now not only a certified EMT but also a lifeguard in the town. And like her EMT training, it came of use under unlikely circumstances.
On her day off from lifeguarding, Dardia and her family took a trip to Sandy Neck Beach last summer. When the wind dislodged the anchor from the raft of a group of three young kids, Dardia was off and running.
“Morgan hadn’t said a word — she just hopped up and started with this fast, purposeful jog towards the shoreline,” recalled her father, Greg Dardia. “By the time I got out there, she was pulling these kids to shore and had them completely distracted. They didn’t realize what type of danger they were actually in. The Coast Guard goes out and does stuff like that all the time.”
Perhaps that day at the beach is how she found her calling; Dardia plans to join the Coast Guard after high school, and she eventually plans to become a firefighter like her dad, who has been in the force for 30 years.
“You’re a product of your environment,” Greg Dardia said.
His two brothers, Morgan’s uncles, serve similar roles; one is a firefighter in Boston, and the other has been in special forces for two decades. In addition, Morgan’s paternal grandfather, Gary, a Navy veteran who enlisted at age 17, is “a cool operator as well,” according to Greg.
When she’s on the lacrosse field, Dardia is a vocal leader, directing the defense and shouting commands to teammates in a way that is to be expected from a soccer goalie, but not quite as much from a lacrosse goalie. Her ability to communicate so effortlessly stems from the level of respect which she had earned from her teammates.
“The girls are amazed with what she has done,” Barnstable coach Ted Guazzaloca said. “They love playing in front of her. She’s like a little field general, and she just communicates with her defense so well.”
Dardia said that much of what she does in the lacrosse goal comes from her experience as a soccer player.
“I take goals against me personally, so I think that just amps me up and makes me want to play better and perform for my team,” Dardia said.
▪ Four sets of sisters have helped Medfield (9-3) emerge as one of the top teams in the Tri-Valley this spring after finishing the 2019 season 7-11.
Babson-bound senior Kathryn (25 goals, 16 assists) and her sister, freshman Kelly Blake (38 goals, 23 assists, and 69 draws) have been catalysts all year.
“These two are like magic on offense together,” Medfield coach Mary Laughna said. “They know where each other is going to go and seem like they read each other’s minds.”
Sophomore twins Alex (27 goals, 12 assists) and Ava Blake (yes, more Blakes), Penn-bound senior Erin (34 goals, 30 assists, and 57 ground balls) and freshman Finch Sullivan (starting defender), and junior twins Liza (attack) and Sophie Young (goalie) all contribute as well.
The Warriors have lost to No. 1 Westwood twice and No. 19 Dover-Sherborn once, but otherwise they’ve cruised through their league schedule thanks in large part to the sibling connection present throughout the roster.
“I think the big thing for me is that having all these sisters on the team, that get along extremely well, has really helped our chemistry on the field because they all work so well together,” Laughna said. “They also push each other a little more than just friends would.”
▪ After falling 12-10 to Wellesley in mid-May, Walpole has ripped off seven consecutive wins to firmly re-establish itself in the Top 10. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the growth of this team since day one and at the level of play they’ve been able to reach and sustain,” coach Mike Tosone said.
Tosone credited goalie Meg Riley for emerging as a “huge piece of the puzzle.” He praised juniors Caroline Whelan, Natalie Griffin, Maggie Mahoney, Jessica Tosone, and Elyse Scales — all of whom got significant minutes as freshmen two years ago — for stepping up, and senior captains Madison Field, Liz Hinton, and Bri Foley for emerging as leaders.
He’s also proud of the team for rallying around senior captain Molly Weiand after she tore an anterior cruciate ligament this winter.
“I would have said in February that we would be pretty good, but in order to be better than that, all the question marks would have to be answered in the affirmative,” Tosone said. “Thankfully, that’s been the case. Like all of our teams over the years, these girls are hard-working, competitive, athletic, and fun. I’m a very lucky person and coach.”
Games to watch
Thursday, Hingham at Duxbury, 4:30 p.m. — The Patriot Cup has produced some of the most exciting games so far this season; No. 18 Hingham visits No. 9 Duxbury in a semifinal.
Friday, Central Catholic at North Andover, 5:30 p.m. — With the MIAA Tournament on the near horizon, No. 11 Central Catholic and North Andover will square off in a non-conference contest with Division I North playoff implications.
Friday, Chelmsford at Andover, 7 p.m. — The No. 4 Lions will will be shooting to close out an undefeated regular season with a two-game series against Andover on Wednesday and Friday.
Monday, Norwell at Hanover, 4 p.m. — After the Hawks surprised Hingham with a win in the second round of the Patriot Cup, they have shown that rankings are just a number. No. 15 Norwell will be a test. (The game will not be played if Hanover is in the Patriot Cup final).
Tuesday, Cohasset at Dover-Sherborn, 7 p.m. —No. 10 Cohasset has been holding court in the middle of the rankings over the last few weeks, and No. 19 Dover-Sherborn is right on the cusp, cracking the Top 20 this week for the first time this season.