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GIRLS' LACROSSE NOTEBOOK

Franklin’s Brigid Earley has flipped sides of the lacrosse field, but she’s thriving anyway

Franklin goalie Brigid Earley has allowed just three goals in three games this season.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

When Brigid Earley made the position switch from attack to goal ahead of the 2021 season, she knew the transition would be a challenge. She expected to face a learning curve. She anticipated having to practice twice as hard.

But she didn’t expect the circular bruises dotting her legs after every practice.

“That was just a new part of me that I had to live with for the season,” said Earley, now a senior. “I guess I wasn’t expecting it, but it just shows that I got through it.”

Last spring, with a void in goal, Franklin turned to Earley, then an attack on the junior varsity. At 6-foot-1, Earley was the obvious choice to take over in net.

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She finished with 86 saves and a 4.50 goals against average, backstopping the Panthers to their first berth in the Division 1 final. Through three games this season, Earley has made 11 saves and allowed just three total goals for the No. 2 Panthers (3-0).

“In the goalie position, you kind of have to have no fear,” Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino said. “She is just a tough, competitive kid who could jump right in and pick it up.”

Earley credited her success in goal to being a three-sport athlete for the Panthers. A standout in basketball and volleyball, as well as on the lacrosse field, Earley translated lessons from the court onto the field.

“I learned from so many great coaches how to work with other people, lead the best that I can, and work toward a goal,” Earley said.

Varsity girls’ basketball coach John Leighton is an assistant coach on the lacrosse team. On the basketball court, Leighton is strict, Earley said. But on the lacrosse field, he’s what she described as “cool and chill.”

“I’ve always known him as this strict coach that I’ve had for basketball, but I’ve always had a great relationship with him,” she said.

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Brigid Earley had a bit of a learning curve between the pipes, but she was integral to Franklin's deep playoff run last season.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Her defensive mind-set on the basketball court, Leighton said, translated directly onto the lacrosse field. She turned rebounding into ground balls, blocked shots into saves, and zone defense into her presence in goal.

“She really just got into the zone of improvement and getting better,” Leighton said. “She let things go, and I think you need to be able to when you try a new position in any sport … to let mistakes go. She learned from them and didn’t live in them.”

But even with familiar faces and encouragement, Earley faced adjustments. She didn’t even have a proper set of pads. She found a bag of extra pads lying around near the field and decided to make it work.

“I was just figuring out how to play, and obviously I was the only goalie, so there was no one else to help me,” Earley said. “And I grew to love the team. My teammates were definitely the reason I got through the season.”

In one game last season, with the Panthers comfortably ahead, Guarino pulled Earley to give her a chance in the field. It took Earley 10 shots, but her teammates kept feeding her the ball, insisting that she find the back of the net.

“She’s such good friends with all the seniors and everyone on the team,” Guarino said. “I think what drives her is she wants to be a good teammate — do whatever she can for the team. She’s really one of the best examples of a team player that I can think of.”

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Added Leighton, “It’s never been about her. It will never be about her. When she sees a need, she’ll step in and solve the problem and not seek attention — not tell you about it, just do it because it’s what the team needs.”

Brigid Earley finished last year with 86 saves and a 4.50 goals against average.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Quick sticks

▪ Prior to her hire as the coach at Weymouth last year, a fellow Bay State Conference coach, in a conversation with Kathryn Riley referred to the Wildcats as the “Bad News Bears.”

“No athletes. A lot of work. Will take a while to have anything productive.”

The Wildcats, with no seniors and not a single player with prior varsity experience, exceeded expectations en route to a 7-9 season and got a taste of the D1 tournament.

This spring, fueled by the first Division 1 commit in program history in junior Cam Flaherty (Stonehill College) and sophomore spark plug Megan Doyle — who recently notched her 100th career point and 200th career draw control – the Wildcats are off to a 3-0 start.

Junior goalie Anya Younie, senior captain Mairead O’Connell, sophomore defender Avery Tufts, and junior midfielder Molly Higgins are also contributing and have helped Weymouth knock off Milton 13-8, Scituate 18-7, and Braintree 14-6. In a conference with perennial contenders Walpole, Needham, Wellesley, and Natick, the Wildcats are on the hunt to prove they belong.

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“We’re trying to change the culture and show girls, ‘Hey, you play Weymouth lacrosse. You can do things. That’s a good program,’” Riley said. “I couldn’t really ask for more. They’ve bought into everything.”

▪ No. 12 (3-0) Newburyport, spearheaded by Anna Affolter, Izzy Rosa, and other catalysts, has outscored its opponents 51-10 and established itself as a force in Division 3.

Olivia McDonald, Makenna Ward, and goalie Kate Keller are also in the mix for the Clippers, who most recently cruised past then-No. 12 Masconomet, 15-3, on Tuesday and face perhaps their toughest test yet next Thursday against Central Catholic.

“We’ve only had three games, but we’re working hard on speeding up our transition leading to faster break goals,” coach Cat Batchelder said. “Our defense is doing a great job communicating and sliding.”

Games to watch

Thursday, Needham at Milton, 4 p.m. — The Wildcats will try to earn a statement Bay State-Herget win over perennial power Needham.

Thursday, Danvers at Masconomet, 4 p.m. — The Chieftains aim to hold off the upset-minded Falcons in a Northeastern-North clash.

Tuesday, Wellesley at Lincoln-Sudbury, 4 p.m. — Two of the best teams in the state go head-to-head as they continue to face tough opponents early.

Tuesday, Natick at Bromfield, noon — Bromfield is always a formidable foe, and Natick will look to prove itself in a non-league clash.

Wednesday, Walpole at Notre Dame (Hingham), 3 p.m. — These teams are both Division 2 title contenders and could see each other again in the future.

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Correspondent Trevor Hass contributed to this story.


Emma Healy can be reached at emma.healy@globe.com.