Two years ago, the Greens Farms Academy girls lacrosse team had an All-American goalie on its roster. Last spring, an eventual Division 3-bound goalie was prepared to take over.
This year, though?
Third-year head coach Ciara Thurlow looked at her team and said somebody would have to step up this spring and become the last line of defensive for the Dragons.
Molly Duffy’s hand was the first one up, Thurlow said.
The sophomore had one practice in net before GFA’s season-opener and now, heading into Tuesday’s home game against Rye Country Day, the Dragons are 3-0 and have surrendered just 12 goals.
“She was the first to raise her hand and was very open-minded and courageous about doing this,” Thurlow said. “We just thought it would be a natural position for her to try.”
She made 11 saves in her first two games and held Hamden Hall scoreless for the first half of Saturday’s game. Not bad for a goalie stepping in front of the varsity net for the first time.
“That first game I was really nervous because I wasn’t doing very well in practice,” Duffy said. “I like making saves. It brings up the energy for the team when I do something well.”
With every practice and every day giving her more and more experience, her teammates are already seeing a lot of improvement in Duffy’s game.
“I’ve been ecstatic with her,” senior tri-captain Marygrace DelliSanti said. “Her attitude has been insanely positive, and she just wants to learn. If she makes a mistake, she wants to know what she can do better.”
Added Annie Lew, another senior captain: “I have so much respect for her. She’s always ready to go and even in drills she’s the first one in the net. She’s very humble. She’s really stepping up in that position. I have so much respect for Molly and I love her.”
After graduating All-American goalie Kelly van Hoesen, who took her talents to Penn, in 2019 and losing Hamilton College-bound goalie Kaitlin Reed to graduation in 2020, the Dragons had a big hole to fill entering the new season. Duffy filling that void was big for her Dragon teammates.
“Not having a goalie is a big hole for the team, so it was a relief for us to see how well she did in her first game,” senior captain Kate Millard added. “I really respect her attitude about it. She’s never complained. She’s just trying to help the team and that’s really selfless of her.”
Duffy is still learning the ropes — and van Hoesen has been on back on campus helping out — but she’s already come a long way this season.
“Everybody has told me I’ve improved a lot,” Duffy said. “During the game, I just try to get my body in front of the goal. Catching it is harder than blocking it. I have a bunch of bruises now, but it’s all fun.”
Thurlow said Duffy has all the tools to be an exceptional goalie if she keeps buying in to the position.
“She has good hand-eye coordination, she has agility and she has quick hands,” Thurlow said. “She’s also comfortable being coached and learning something new.”
With a young team that features a handful of eighth graders playing key roles, Duffy’s actions also are a reminder that anybody can be a leader on a team. The team’s seniors, meanwhile, are doing all they can on the defensive end of the field to protect their rookie goalie.
“That’s why we have all our senior leadership back there,” Thurlow said. “They’re not letting anybody in there. Our philosophy is protect the house, protect Molly, and don’t let them in the front door. They’ve done a fantastic job protecting her.”
And the future—as well as the position—is Duffy’s for the embracing.
“I think her potential is endless,” Thurlow said. “It’s in Molly’s hands, but she has everything it takes. She has the skills, but also the mindset and courage and we’re so proud of her.”