Walpole native Laura Giovaniello (pictured) is all smiles while warming up during Bridgewater State women's lacrosse's practice on Monday night. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Coming off a breakout junior season in 2019 that saw a Division I East sectional title, Laura Giovaniello was set to serve as the starting goalie for Walpole High School girls varsity lacrosse in 2020.
Four years earlier, Giovaniello had never even played lacrosse goalie. Now, she was trying to help lead her her highly touted team to a state championship as a senior.
Unfortunately, COVID robbed Giovaniello and all 2020 spring athletes of the opportunity to compete for a state championship as her entire senior season was cancelled.
Thankfully, Giovaniello had already done enough in cage to earn a scholarship offer to play at Bridgewater State. While finishing her school career at home over Zoom was far from ideal, Giovaniello says she will always cherish her experience of playing lacrosse at Walpole High.
"I would say at Walpole I had a very good coaching staff," said Gioveniello. "I had some great teammates, as well, who always supported me and helped me learn the goalie position. I came into Walpole having never played goalie before in my life. My coaches and teammates taught me along the way all the fundamentals and helped me become a better goalie, and ultimately, it all led to me coming here to Bridgewater."
As a freshman in 2021, Giovaniello appeared in six games for the Bears, racking up a total of 130:54 time played with a save percentage of 41.9 (13 saves, 18 goals allowed). Now a sophomore, Giovaniello described the grind of being a Division III athlete and says she and her teammates are holding themselves to high standards this season.
"It's a lot more than people expect," said Gioveniello. "If someone were to come in and play Division III, I think they should be fully into it. I know we all are. Just because it's Division III does not mean it is going to be easy. We still compete and train the same way as Division I and II athletes do, and we love it. We have a lot of incoming freshmen. We are hoping they bring a lot of enthusiasm into our program. We're excited to be back and we are holding our program to high expectations this year."
Bridgewater State head coach Erica Adams is a former three-sport star at Nichols College. Adams ('08) served as the starting goalie on the Bison women's lacrosse team during her junior and senior seasons. Giovaniello described the benefits of having a coach like Adams, who has experience playing goalie at the collegiate level, and says she looks up to her head coach, both on and off the field.
"Coach Adams is a great coach," said Giovaniello. "I've learned so much from her. She cares about the student and the athlete, not just the athlete. She cares about you as a person, on and off the field and in the classroom. She helps teach you life lessons along with sports lessons as well."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.