The Cardinal Mooney girls lacrosse team is having a season to be remembered this year. The girls, led by head coach Toni Chahine, are currently sitting at 13-3 and are hoping to make a deep run this postseason. The 2024 edition of the girls team is shaping up to be the best Cardinal Mooney has ever seen when it’s all said and done.

Chahine has been the head coach of the team for eight seasons and has built the Cardinals into a local powerhouse in recent years. The recent trend of winning can be attributed to the years of hard work building up the program.

“It certainly hasn’t been easy,” said Chahine. “We started off only winning one and four games my first two seasons. We had to figure out as a team and coaching staff what we wanted out of our program. I feel once our culture of being as highly competitive as possible was established we never turned back. Once this team got a taste of winning our roster size grew, and our competitive nature in practices and games increased. I feel with the help of senior leadership that understands our coaching expectations we have been able to establish consistent winning seasons.”

Although the girls lacrosse team has gotten comfortable with their winning ways in the last few seasons, this season has been exceptional. They currently sit at 13-3, which is two games more than their season win total last year of 11. They completed a season sweep of all the local teams and convincingly beat the Hoban team that knocked them out of the playoffs in overtime last year. The cause for much of their success, was the leadership of the six senior girls and the close-knit nature of the team.

“I think that the energy has been infectious. We have 6 seniors who demonstrate a work ethic and love for the sport that I have rarely seen in my 8 years of coaching. It now spreads down to the rest of our young roster and has pushed our sophomores and even freshmen to new levels.” said Chahine.

Coach Toni Chahine has built the girls lacrosse program at Cardinal Mooney from the ground up and this year’s squad is a reflection of her hard work and has set the standard for the program going forward. The team is often a reflection of her and that drive and competitiveness has allowed them to reach a new level of success.

“I feel this team really reflects my work ethic and competitive nature. I am highly competitive in everything I do, sometimes to a fault. I feel that they walk into every game ready to play anyone. They aren’t afraid of any team, and work hard day in and day out. They push each other in practice and maintain that competitive edge through and through. I feel that they reflect that side of me immensely.”

The Cardinals are led by a special group of seniors as a whole this year, however, two senior girls stand out a little more than the rest. Goalie Alyssa Ray has had quite the career in her three years on the team. Since joining her sophomore year she has proven to be a force in front of the net. She capped her 2024 season off with nine saves against NDCL, also hitting the 500 career save milestone on senior night.

“It was a defining moment for me and was something that I’ve worked for since I started playing my sophomore year. I am so grateful because the 3 years of dedication and hard work between the posts paid off. Each save for me represented countless hours of practice. Surpassing this milestone not only validated my skills as a goalie but also motivated me to constantly improve. It was a milestone that reminded me of the countless challenges I’ve overcome and the countless more I’m ready to face, fueling my ambition to continue pushing boundaries and reaching new heights in lacrosse. ” said Ray.

She cites her teammates as a critical part of her success and displays how great the bond is on this team.

“Each of my teammates makes me a better player with every shot they take. They always push me to be a better version of myself. As a senior athlete, I hope this milestone encourages other people to set high expectations and goals for themselves and work hard to achieve them.”

Ray finishes the regular season with 166 saves and a save percentage of .562. She has racked up 506 saves in her three year career and has been monumental to the teams overall success. While Ray held down the defensive side and put up historic numbers defending the goal, midfielder Ella Szalay terrorized other teams keepers.

Szalay is capping off what is almost certainly the best career of any lacrosse player, boy or girl, in Cardinal Mooney history. Ella has done pretty much everything you could imagine in her four years at Mooney. Her name stands alone at the top of every record for the Cardinal Mooney girls lacrosse team. She holds the record for goals with 234 (and counting) and goals in a single game, scoring 11 against Louisville this year. She holds the record for goals in a season with 86 her junior year, although she’s well on pace to breaking her own record this year. She doesn’t even stop at scoring, also holding the record for career draw controls.

“I attribute my success to the love and support I get from my teammates and family. The determination I have and standards I set for myself also help me be a better player.” said Szalay. “I played in the backyard with my sister growing up, so I guess it just prepared me for my high school career by having basic fundamentals down. I had no idea how far it would take me.”

Ella is committed to play lacrosse at the next level at Baldwin Wallace next spring. She says the decision she made back in January was an easy one after a long recruiting process.

“The coaches and players I got to meet were very welcoming and inviting. I loved the campus it was very welcoming and it definitely felt like home when I got there”

Ella has left a legacy that will never be forgotten or replicated, and her individual success has been a huge factor in the success the team has seen during her playing career.

“I am just so proud of her accomplishments. She is a coach’s dream of an athlete, and I am just happy to see it all pay off for her. She will be missed immensely, but I hope she knows the legacy she left in this program. Younger girls both on the team, and incoming want to be like her, and that’s something you can’t teach.” said Chahine.
Chahine, Szalay, Ray, all the senior leaders, and every other player on the girls lacrosse team have produced a season to be remembered this year. The girls are gearing up for a deep playoff run and hope to make this season undeniably the best lacrosse season Cardinal Mooney has ever had.