A season that began in a 10-day quarantine – lifted just prior to the first game after three players had tested positive for COVID-19 – ended with championship hardware after Kennebunk went 16-0 and claimed its first Class A girls’ lacrosse state title.

It seemed appropriate that senior captain Lily Schwartzman cradled the ball in the netting of her stick for large chunks of the final minutes, literally running out the clock on a 9-8 victory over two-time defending champ Falmouth at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Kennebunk senior Lily Schwartzman looks for an opening in the Class A girls’ lacrosse state championship game on June 18. Schwartzman led the state with 77 goals this season as the Rams finished with a 16-0 record and their first Class A state title. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Schwartzman was Maine’s most prolific scorer this spring with 77 goals. Yet in the championship game, she slid into a different role, winning the majority of draws and allowing defensive attention on her to open offensive opportunities for teammates. Sophomore Ruby Sliwkowski took advantage by scoring six goals, to the delight of her senior teammate.

“I think that goes along with some of the most important lessons that I’ve learned as a result of playing sports,” Schwartzman said. “What it took for us to win that game was Ruby scoring six goals, and not the one goal and one assist that I had. I wasn’t focused on how many goals I could score. I have been saying since last March that I want to win a state championship. That was my one goal coming into this year, not individual goals.”

For being the leading actor on the only unbeaten team in the state, Schwartzman is our choice as Varsity Maine Player of the Year for girls’ lacrosse.

Kennebunk Coach Annie Barker, who also coached Lily’s older sisters, Kyra and Hallie, said Lily’s leadership skills and tutelage of younger players were as important to the team’s success as her athletic prowess and lacrosse smarts.

“If we needed her to play midfield or defense, she could,” Barker said. “She knew every aspect of the game, if she needed to be put in any of those positions.”

Schwartzman also won 65 percent of draws, meaning Kennebunk gained possession nearly twice as many times as its opponents.

“That’s a huge piece of the game,” Barker said.

Schwartzman, who plans to continue her career at Skidmore College, was one of three Maine girls to earn All-America status this spring. The others, seniors Annie Lowenstein of Yarmouth and Eva Clement of Falmouth, both saw their teams lose tight contests to Kennebunk.

Rams teammate Emily Archibald, crowned Miss Maine Basketball in March, returned to lacrosse this spring for the first time since 2018. She said Schwartzman set an inspiring example.

Kennebunk’s Lily Schwartzman, center, holds the championship plaque with fellow captains Danielle Gassman, left, and Neely Connor after the Rams won the Class A girls’ lacrosse title on June 18.  Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“She was hustling all the time and she’s a vocal leader in such a positive way, just a great communicator,” Archibald said. “She’s a phenomenal player. I can’t say enough good things about her.”

As a rather stubborn younger sibling, Schwartzman refused to follow her older sisters into lacrosse – not right away at least – and instead rode horses. Not until sixth grade did she deign to pick up a stick with any regularity.

The transition from individual to team sport struck a chord in her. Being a part of something bigger than yourself, creating harmony by working in concert with others, “it showed me why people do this,” she said, “and why people love playing sports and especially playing lacrosse.”

Having that taken away, first by the pandemic last spring and then again on the eve of this season, raised awareness of how quickly that could disappear, and the responsibility of each team member to the whole.

“Once you were in practice, and then went back on Zoom and had to work out at your house, it wasn’t the same,” she said, “which is what made us come back even more ready to play than we were before. We knew something like that could happen at any time during the season. It makes you so grateful for what you have, rather than what you don’t have.”

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