Paly girls’ lacrosse crushes cross-town rival Gunn, 14-3

Brennan Miller, Staff Writer

“I had a good day and I was open a lot and just…got lucky,” Leigh Dairaghi (’11) said.

Well, whatever she did, it was right. The senior attacker scored four times as she led the Palo Alto High School girls’ lacrosse team to a 14-3 romp of cross-town rival Gunn.

Paly opened the scoring just 49 seconds into the game. Midfielder Layla Memar (’12) found a cutting Dairaghi for a swift short range goal. This quick start was closely followed by another goal, this time unassisted, by Nina Kelty (’13). Despite four successive saves by Gunn goalie Helen Carefoot, the Lady Vikes found the back of the net again. Less than four minutes into the game, the score already stood an impressive 3-0.

“We had a great practice yesterday and it carried over,” Paly coach Jaime Nesbitt said. “I just challenged them to be intense and really get after it.”

The game settled down as skirt-clad girls streaked up and down the field through the mosquito filled twilight. About half way through the first half, the whistle happy referees sent sophomore Charlotte Biffar (’13) to the box for being offside. Although shorthanded, the Lady Vikes’ Emy Kelty (’12) showed her speed, weaving through helpless Titans defenders at full speed. Kelty found Dairaghi with a low pass who once again sneaked a goal just past the outstretched stick of Carefoot.

“Leigh was big for us,” Nesbitt said. “She’s always a cutter that’s open and we’ve struggled all season to find her till tonight. Shes been there all along so it was more a testament to the team to finally find her.”

Going into the final minute of the half, the score stood at 5-1 in Paly’s favor, but the Lady Vikes were determined to end the half just like they had started it. Kelty rocketed the ball into the net off a fast break. Dairaghi whipped it in off the face off 21 seconds later. Almost too good to be true, Biffar won a face off and raced to the crease with eight seconds left. As she cocked back her stick to shoot, the seconds ticked off. Five, four. The shot…just wide of the net. The yellow sphere bounced out of play just as the horn sounded. With all the wind in their sails, Paly went into half time up 7-1.

But the wind shifted during half time and Titans were able to come out and score two quick goals. Paly’s ball movement and aggressive play won out in the end.

“What makes Paly good is they’ve got lots of players,” Gunn coach Doug Arakawa said. “We try to take one player out and they’ve got two or three that pick up the slack. All of them move the ball extremely well and you can’t just isolate one player. They’re a very good team.”

Nesbitt however, sees things that the Lady Vikes still need to work on.

“We still need to work on our discipline coming out of the defensive end,” Nesbitt said. “A couple times we looked frazzled but because we were working hard we got it to the attack end but sometimes it was a little bit hectic. We need to have more poise.”

Nesbitt highlights one thing that led Paly to their fifth league win: hard work.

“It was Gunn for us,” Dairaghi said. “I was really motivated to win. We were encouraged to try really hard tonight. Just really motivated and I think it showed in the game.”

The Lady Vikes look to take on Pioneer and Burlingame later this week.