Clarke explodes for 10 wins


To say this spring has been fun for Clarke’s girls’ lacrosse program would be a major understatement.

The Rams, under longtime coach Rick Aragona and first-year assistant Samantha Kidd, enjoyed a meteoric rise that saw them more than double their win total from the previous four seasons combined and fell just shy of a playoff berth.

“We were so close to playoffs,” Kidd said after the team’s 10th win of the season, 13-1, at Valley Stream District in last Saturday’s finale. “Both of our conference losses were by one goal and we led in both games. It was a bittersweet ending but everyone has a lot to be proud of.”

Clarke showed some improvement last season when it earned three wins and lost a handful of others narrowly following a winless 2022. Kidd, the former JV coach, was excited about the athleticism and chemistry the Rams showed early this spring and sensed big things could happen.

“Our athleticism was unmatched and we had balanced scoring and a deep bench,” said Kidd, a native of Canada and former goaltender at LIU. “Teams couldn’t focus on stopping one or two girls because every game we could count on five or more to score.”

Clarke had four seniors, including captains Daniella Sison and Sophia Papacostas.

Sison missed half of the season with a sprained ankle but when healthy was a vital piece at both ends of the field. Even in limited action she scored 12 goals, including five in her final high school game, and was clutch on draw control. “She got hurt in the opening game but was at every practice helping in any way she could before she was ready to return,” Kidd said.

Papacostas served as the quarterback of a defense that made considerable strides and featured a trio of freshmen — Julia Cardozo, Katerina Rivera and Savana Castro.

In goal, the Rams entered the campaign with three solid options. Junior returning starter Lauren Foley continued hold of the reigns and was sharp, totaling 82 saves while working almost every minute of every game she played. “Lauren was incredible all year,” Kidd noted. Foley missed two games but sophomore Rebekah McGrady stepped up along with senior Alicia Velasquez.

Sophomore midfielders Madison DeLeon and Ava Ruperto played key defensive roles as well and sparked the transition game. DeLeon had 16 goals.

Sophomore middie Gianna Riccobonno popped in 22 goals and handled the majority of draws. Classmate Erin Frank scored 14 and freshman Ayla Abate netted 15.

Junior Valentina Kesabian (team-leading 26 goals) and senior Ariana Dalipi (team-high 8 assists) led the attack along with freshman Mia Lucas (9 goals), sophomore Diana Velez (6 goals, 6 assists) and junior Karli Rubenstein.

Kidd said the Rams’ 5-4 come-from-behind win over Island Trees April 18 was a momentum and confidence builder. Abate had a hat trick and Foley made 11 stops.

“The girls really cared about each other and worked so hard,” Kidd said.