St. John’s junior Nicolette Crisalli has 87 goals in 15 games so far this season. (Photo courtesy Anne Keenaghan)

Nicolette Crisalli walked off the lacrosse field at McNamara in May 2011 thoroughly disappointed.

With a 16-13 playoff loss to the Mustangs, St. John’s finished her freshman season winless in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference play. On the bright side, the Cadets had nowhere to go but up in the conference standings.

“It really made me realize there was something we had to change,” Crisalli said. “We all had to work as a program together if we wanted to earn respect.”

Now a junior, Crisalli has paced St. John’s’ improvement over the past two seasons. The speedy midfielder/attack has led the squad in scoring since arriving at the District private school. The Cadets (6-8-1, 2-5) aren’t challenging for a WCAC title yet, but they’ve earned a spot in the middle of the pack.

This year, Crisalli ranks second in the area with a career-high 87 goals in 15 games after notching 10 more goals on Friday in a 22-18 loss to St. Mary’s Ryken, her 10th contest this season scoring at least five times. Only reigning All-Met Player of the Year Carly Reed of St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes has more at 92, and she’s played in 21 games.

In Crisalli, St. John’s has a consistent offensive threat who has a knack for finding the ball and getting to goal even when the opponent chooses to face guard her, which has happened often. Now the team practices running its offense with the expectation that defenses will play her that way.

“She really worked hard over the summer, and you can tell,” Coach Anne Keenaghan said. “She has a left-hand now and that’s just added to her ability to score.”

Crisalli plans to play the sport in college, and Keenaghan, who took over to begin that difficult 2011 season, hopes that St. John’s can become a school where college recruiters can find lacrosse talent consistently.

Last season’s senior class included midfielder Ciara Guihen, who moved on to play at Division II Seton Hill. This time around, the roster has just three seniors, but Crisalli and defender Molly Flores are among a handful of players in the junior class that have generated Division I interest. Sophomore Maggie Williams (61 goals, 45 assists) is already among the WCAC’s most well-rounded offensive players.

Crisalli’s recruitment started slow because she didn’t join a club team until the fall of her sophomore year. Her family spends most of the summer at its beach house in Ocean City, so the Silver Spring native joined Greene Turtle Lacrosse based in the coastal town.

Crisalli said she has made a few college visits but has yet to find the right fit. She’s waiting for her first scholarship offer and hopes a strong performance representing the D.C. Metro team at next month’s U.S. Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament will help.

“This will be a big summer,” Crisalli said. “I’m just not trying to rush it. I want to make sure I find a school that’s perfect for me.”


Sophomore Matt Dennis scored in double overtime to lift W.T. Woodson boys’ lacrosse to a 6-5 win over Virginia AAA Patriot District rival Lake Braddock.


A day after leading the U.S. All-Stars to a win over at the Capital Classic, Oak Hill senior forward Lennard Freeman, formerly of St. John’s, announced his commitment to N.C. State on Monday.


Number of unanswered goals by the fourth-ranked Landon lacrosse team to finish a 7-2 win over No. 9 DeMatha. The Stags tied the game up at two late in the first quarter before junior Sean O’Brien jumpstarted the Landon offense. The Bucknell-bound attackman had a hand in the next four scores with two goals and two assists, and the Bears held DeMatha scoreless over the last three quarters.

Check out the video from a rain-soaked afternoon in Bethesda:


Madison remains unbeaten against local competition in girls’ lacrosse after holding off Stone Bridge, 12-11, in a AAA Liberty showdown. Junior Katie Kerrigan scored the game-winner. Check out a photo gallery of the action.

Chantilly junior Laila Gray posted a hat trick to power the fourth-ranked Chargers girls’ soccer team to a 4-0 nonleague win over No. 7 Forest Park.

– T.C. Williams junior lineman Jeremiah Clarke is up to 16 scholarship offers.

Holton-Arms sophomore Lilly Lynham has improved rapidly on the tennis court thanks in part to a training contraption called the Sweet Spotter, conceived by her coach.

St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes senior Isaiah Davis-Allen talks about his commitment to the University of Maryland and recovery from a broken leg last spring.


Baseball: Loudoun Valley at Potomac Falls, 6 p.m.

The Panthers have a chance to take a three-game lead in the AA Dulles standings with a home victory on Tuesday night. The Vikings have won nine straight games since falling at home against Potomac Falls, 6-1, on April 2. The Panthers are coming off a nonleague loss to Bridgeport (W.V.) over the weekend but remain unbeaten in district play.