Ellie Lazzaretto Inspired by Past Ramblers, Fuels Loyola Academy Success

The Loyola Academy (Ill.) girls’ team had rallied most of the way back from a six-goal deficit but still trailed entering the final seconds of its sectional title game with rival New Trier. In those final seconds, Ramblers senior Ellie Lazzaretto scored the game-tying goal before adding the game-winner score in overtime.

That knack for scoring in big moments was just part of Lazzaretto’s contributions to the 2021 Loyola Academy season.

A consistent playmaker, Lazzaretto finished with 112 goals, 36 assists and 81 draw controls to lead the Ramblers to their 14th state title in program history — the first since the IHSA began oversight of the sport’s postseason in 2018. Lazzaretto is the Nike / USA Lacrosse Midwest Girls’ Player of the Year.

“She’s always kind of been there for the clutch goal,” Loyola coach John Dwyer said. “She’s a very steady kid and the bigger the game, the better her performance.”

That’s something Lazzaretto and the Ramblers learned early, from the moment she scored an overtime game-winner against New Albany (Ohio) when she was a sophomore. 

So, it came as no surprise that Lazzaretto followed her seven-goal, three-assist performance against the Trevians with seven goals apiece in the state quarterfinals and semifinals, followed by a nine-point performance in the state title game against Glenbrook South.

“I think it’s just something that I’ve learned about myself as an athlete, that when the moment is big and when the game is big, usually I rise to the occasion,” Lazzaretto said. “I think it’s just like a sort of intensity that comes out, and I love my team more than anything, so I think that in those moments, all I think about are my teammates and how bad I want to win for them and that kind of gives me all the push I need to get me through those games.”

Lazzaretto had plenty pushing her in 2021, including postseason losses to Hinsdale Central and New Trier that ended her freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively. 

Her junior year was supposed to be Loyola’s shot at redemption, but that season came to an even earlier end, before it ever even started, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think that team would have also been one of the best teams we’ve ever had, and those were some of my best friends, so when that season got canceled, it was just one of the worst things I’ve ever felt in my life to know that I would never play with those girls again and that they would never have the chance to avenge that loss the year before,” Lazzaretto said. “So, this year, it wasn’t just one season that we were making up for, it was two, and for [fellow four-year starter] Maley [Starr] and I, it was three because our freshman year we came up short as well.”

“The bigger the game, the better her performance.”

— John Dwyer

Lazzaretto’s original motivation was far simpler. 

She picked up a lacrosse stick in the first grade because her older brother, Luca, did first. Luca, who now plays at Princeton University, was a willing mentor, and Ellie was all too happy to learn and watch.

“Ever since I can remember, I went to all of his stuff,” Lazzaretto said. “So, watching him play, I would just take it all in, soak it all up like a sponge, and I think that was just how I kind of fell in love with the sport.”

Lazzaretto stood out before she even reached high school, playing with a passion that once rankled an opposing parent who confronted Lazzaretto, her dad and Dwyer after a summer game. Dwyer’s response was simple: Keep playing with that fire. 

She did, scoring 26 goals as a freshman before leading the team with 86 as a sophomore.

“I think the coolest thing about Loyola is the team aspect,” Lazzaretto said. “I never felt like a freshman, I never felt like an outcast, I never felt like I was being babied or anything like that, and I think that having that, knowing that your teammates have your back and that’s been the case every year, just allows everyone to kind of reach their fullest potential.”

But one thing stung about those first two years.

The season-ending losses to Hinsdale Central and New Trier. 

A third seemed likely when the Trevians took a big lead in this season’s sectional final. Trailing at the half, Lazzaretto spotted some of her former Ramblers teammates, who were there to cheer on the current edition of the team.

And Lazzaretto and the Ramblers took it from there.

“Looking back on that and thinking about that moment, I think right then and there we knew we were not going to lose that game,” Lazzaretto said. “So, I think that was one of the most special parts of that game was having them cheering their faces off the entire game, screaming for us as if they were on the team, and ultimately they are. Like we were playing for them, that game was for them, our entire playoff run was for them.”

Nike/USA Lacrosse High School Rankings
National Boys' Top 25 | National Girls' Top 25
Northeast Boys' Top 10 | Northeast Girls' Top 10
Mid-Atlantic Boys' Top 10 | Mid-Atlantic Girls' Top 10
South Boys' Top 10
| South Girls' Top 10
Midwest Boys' Top 10
| Midwest Girls' Top 10
West Boys' Top 10
| West Girls' Top 10

presented by


1. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 25-0

Ellie Lazzaretto capped a whirlwind postseason – in which she compiled 37 goals, 18 draw controls and 10 assists – with seven goals in the state semifinals against Hinsdale Central (Ill.) and six in the title game against Glenbrook South (Ill.). Lazzaretto (112 goals, 36 assists, 148 points) wasn’t the only player to star for the Ramblers, as Maley Starr nearly hit the century mark for points with 66 goals and 31 assists (along with 124 draw controls). Adrienne Leone (51 goals, 22 assists), Sloan Trapp (36 goals, 30 assists) and Caroline Smith (63.2 save percentage) also excelled for Loyola.

2. New Trier (Ill.), 17-4

Three of New Trier’s four losses this season came to top-ranked Loyola Academy, by a combined eight goals, with the Trevians even taking a 7-1 lead on the Ramblers in their sectional title match. Macy Zaban easily hit the century mark in points (121) with 75 goals and 46 assists. Ella Huber led New Trier in draw controls (98) and ground balls (30), while Emma Curry (50 goals), Grace Curry (48) and Kennedy Meier (80 draw controls) also played key roles for the Trevians.

3. Hinsdale Central (Ill.), 18-4

Like New Trier, three of Hinsdale Central’s four losses came to top-ranked Loyola Academy, including in a state semifinal. The Red Devils roared back in the third-place game to defeat Benet Academy (Ill.), 18-6. Hinsdale Central had four players score 45 goals or more: Annette Ciupek (56), Angie Conley (55), Charlotte Callahan (48) and Avery Secola (45). Conley also tallied 48 assists to reach triple digits in points with 103. 

4. East Grand Rapids (Mich.), 23-2

Lucy Cavanaugh, Lizzie Lundeen and Eliana LaMange combined for 14 goals to lead the Pioneers to a 15-11 win over Cranbrook-Kingswood (Mich.) in the Division 2 state final. EGR had just one in-state loss this season, a seven-goal margin defeat at the hands of Forest Hills Northern/Eastern that was later avenged. The Pioneers also had a pair of notable wins over Division 1 champion Rockford (Mich.).

5. Dublin Coffman (Ohio), 18-5

The Shamrocks won four straight games by two goals or fewer to capture the Division I state title, including a stunning regional championship win over then-undefeated Upper Arlington (Ohio). Kate Tyack, who led Dublin Coffman with five goals in a 13-12 state title game victory over New Albany (Ohio), was one of three Shamrocks players to top 60 goals, joining Amanda Bailey (69) and Bailey Morris (61).


6. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 20-1

The Golden Bears’ season ended in the regional title game, but their impressive resume included road wins over in-state opponents Medina (15-10), Thomas Worthington (16-11), New Albany (7-3), Mason (15-7) and Hudson (17-9). Cincinnati commit Camryn Callaghan led Upper Arlington with 59 goals, despite playing just 14 games due to injury, using her ability to dodge and finish in tight spaces to average just over four goals per game. Rian Adkins (41 goals), Kampbell Stone (40), Clara Gallapoo (38) and Ava Walters (34) also had huge seasons.

7. Carmel (Ind.), 16-2

The Greyhounds captured a state title with a pair of five-goal victories over Cathedral (Ind.) in the semifinals and Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) in the championship game. Maddie McGarty led Carmel in goals (71) and points (90) while Hannah Kim led the team in draw controls (107) and ground balls (36). Fellow senior Julia Cherubini also was toward the top in a number of categories with 35 goals, 28 assists, 63 points and 38 draw controls, while sophomore Anna Dumke (32 goals, 12 assists, 44 points, 29 ground balls) established herself as a player to watch going forward.

8. Rockford (Mich.), 15-4

The Rams captured their eighth straight state title, winning the Division 1 final 19-16 over Brighton (Mich.) behind Chloe Dunham’s six goals, Issi Osborn’s five goals and Mackenzie Delacher’s five assists. Rockford relied on a balanced attack all year with five players topping 60 points, including Delacher (39 goals, 26 assists), Dunham (64 goals, 20 assists), Chloe Holmes (39 goals, 26 assists), Osborn (36 goals, 33 assists) and Katie Rodriguez (57 goals, 17 assists).

9. Prior Lake (Minn.), 18-1

After dropping their opener at Edina, the Lakers won 18 straight en route to a state title, combining for 50 goals over the state quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Payton Bloedow led Prior Lake in goals (78) and points (96), Nina Winter led the Lakers in assists (28) and Mackenzie Salentre had six goals in the state title game.

T10. Edina (Minn.), 14-1

The Hornets went undefeated in the regular season, and their only loss came to eventual state champion Prior Lake in a sectional championship contest. Haley Reeck had a hat trick in that game to finish with 77 goals and 94 points in 15 games, while also leading the team in draw controls with 61. Cordelia Flemming tacked on 43 goals and 59 draw controls.

T10. New Albany (Ohio), 20-4

The Eagles won 13 straight games before falling in the Division I state title game to Dublin Coffman. Mary Carson had a stupendous junior season to lead New Albany, notching 62 goals, 74 points, 77 ground balls and 92 draw controls in 24 games. Katie Kaucheck (53 goals, 32 assists, 85 points) and Abby Cole (58 goals, 20 assists, 78 points) also played leading roles for the Eagles.