Siobhan Merrill was racing to the goal with no one to stop her, except Elwood/John Glenn goalie Sylvanna Polito. An excellent scoring chance beckoned.
With Polito at her mercy, though, Merrill stunned observers by darting an unexpected pass to a Bishop McGann-Mercy teammate sliding in from the left side. The teammate missed the ball and groans could be heard on the McGann-Mercy sideline.
For McGann-Mercy’s coach, Walter Flaherty, it was a groan that came with a smile because Merrill had passed when she could have shot.
“She’s unselfish and she made a great pass, trying to make her teammates better,” he said. “That’s her in a nutshell.”
That is Merrill as a lacrosse player, but as those who know the junior midfielder will tell you, there is a lot more to her as a person. As evidenced by her unselfish play, she is a charitable person, on a mission, in more ways than one.
Time is a precious commodity for Merrill. “Time management is really important, and I’m learning it,” she said.
Merrill is a co-chairwoman of Mercy On a Mission, a charitable organization that since the start of the school year has raised about $10,000 for a veterans hospital, said Merrill. “It’s a great way to get involved,” she said.
In addition, Merrill is involved in student government. She has been a class president since she was a freshman. If that all isn’t enough, she plays travel soccer, runs winter track, is involved with her church and does charity work outside of school (she missed a game against Babylon on April 8 in order to help feed homeless people in Manhattan).
And, oh yeah, she’s also one of the leaders of the school’s girls lacrosse team.
Does Merrill have any spare time?
“No,” she said.
Merrill started playing lacrosse last year and was a starter for the Monarchs. When Flaherty became the team’s coach this year, he quickly found out what type of a player she is.
“I said this is a really good athlete, a super athlete,” he said, adding that her stick skills are “pretty good,” but she needs to develop her left hand.
Flaherty thinks so highly of Merrill’s abilities that he has contacted college coaches about her. She has been put on Columbia University’s radar screen. Amherst College in Massachusetts has contacted her. New Hampshire is interested.
“I’m trying to push her, push her, push her, push her to the next level,” said Flaherty.
College sports had not been in Merrill’s plans, but now she is reconsidering.
“Right now I’m unsure,” she said. “I’m debating about sports. I’m not sure where I want to go. I’m still thinking [about] what I want to major [in], so it’s all undecided right now. Having [Flaherty’s] encouragement has definitely helped me think about it more. I was originally set on not playing sports in college, but after hearing him and some other people, I’m debating it again.”
Colleges could find Merrill’s running ability and nose for the goal to be alluring features. As with her charitable work, Merrill is active on the playing field, a body in almost constant motion.
“Sas is the one that we can count on to always run the ball all the way up the field and we know she will go right to goal,” senior attackman Savannah Connors said. “And if she doesn’t take the shot, then she will find the open player and she knows what to do. She’s a very well-rounded player. We love her. We know that she will be the one that we can count on at all times.”
The Monarchs are short on experience. In a season-opening, 19-3 loss to Glenn, Merrill stood out with her play for McGann-Mercy, scoring one goal from three shots, picking up two ground balls and intercepting two passes.
In four games, she has six goals, five assists and has won eight draws.
Merrill said she is still working on her game.
“It’s a lot of learning,” she said. “You really have to train and work at it. … I just want to become a better player overall and be able to just work my teammates more. I want to improve my basic skills the most. I think catching, passing, shooting just all need improvement.”
Now, she just has to find the time.
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy junior midfielder Siobhan Merrill, left, chasing after the ball during a game against Elwood/John Glenn. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)