Sports Person of the Week
Widlitz is a Natural in the Net
Sydney Widlitz had a phenomenal freshman season as the goalkeeper for the Guilford girls’ lacrosse team last year. Sydney helped the Indians have their best campaign in program history and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the SCC Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Widlitz )
Sydney Widlitz was thrown into the proverbial fire in her freshman year as a member of the Guilford girls’ lacrosse squad. When the Indians were in need of a goalie, Sydney was the person for the job, and she proved that she was more than ready to take on that responsibility.
Sydney started playing lacrosse in 3rd grade and then became a goalie when she was in 5th grade. Sydney volunteered to step into the net during a youth game one day, and she’s been playing that position ever since.
“My favorite aspect of playing lacrosse is being part of a team,” says Sydney. “As a freshman, I was nervous to play a varsity sport, but the upperclassmen have all been so supportive, which has helped me gain confidence in my position. I’m so grateful to have the support of our current captains, Cat Larrow and Maggie Mandel.”
Sydney had a phenomenal freshman campaign for Guilford in 2019 and was poised to perform even better this year had the season not been a canceled due to COVID-19. Last season, the Indians finished with a record of 18-3 on their way to winning their first SCC championship in team history. Sydney posted a save percentage of 44 percent on the year and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the SCC Tournament, which Guilford won by earning an 11-10 overtime victory versus Cheshire in the final.
“My favorite moment from last year was when our team won the SCC championship game against Cheshire,” Sydney says. “We had all worked so hard to get to that point in our season, and it was definitely the most exciting and competitive game I have ever played.”
Head Coach Wendy Epke says that Sydney brings a positive presence to the field and credits her for making huge strides throughout the 2019 season. Epke was expecting big things for Sydney heading into 2020.
“Sydney brings the most positive attitude to our practices and games,” says Epke. “She truly loves playing goalie—which was awesome last season, since we only had one in the program—and spends countless hours practicing her craft at home. She’s dedicated to always improving and signs up for extra training, clinics, and practice time every chance she gets.”
Sydney has had a good relationship with Coach Epke going back to her days of playing in the Guilford Youth Lacrosse program. Epke worked with Sydney while coaching her youth team, and their bond has continually grown stronger since then.
“I’ve been fortunate to have Coach Epke as not only my high school coach, but also my Guilford Youth Lacrosse coach. Her support and guidance over the years, especially my freshman year, have helped make me the player I am today,” Sydney says. “Both [she and assistant coach Lou] Monaco always push us to do our best on and off the field.”
Epke was quite impressed with how Sydney performed in her first year at the high school level. In addition to playing for the varsity squad, Sydney also held down the fort in goal for the Indians’ JV and freshman teams.
“Sydney made huge improvements over last season by playing goalie for our freshman, JV, and varsity teams,” Epke says. “Even now, she is at home practicing with her family, on her own, and using virtual training classes, too.”
With the state of Connecticut having been essentially shut down for the past two months, Sydney has spent time organizing other players to make greeting cards to deliver to the nursing home where her grandmother is in an effort to bring some cheer to the older generation in isolation. She also enjoys making baked goods and drawing.
Sydney has been maintaining a positive attitude during these difficult times. She’s already thinking about what the Indians can accomplish next season, when they are expecting a few new goalies to join the fold.
“Even though I’m disappointed that we didn’t have a season this year, I’m really looking forward to next year,” says Sydney. “I am also looking forward to having new goalies join the team next season.”
Sydney works on her game every day in order to continue improving. Sydney plays lacrosse year-round and is dedicated to being the best goalkeeper that she can be.
“I can’t remember a day where I haven’t had a lacrosse stick in my hand. I’m always trying new things to improve my skills,” Sydney says. “I’ve taught myself how to juggle to improve my hand-eye coordination. Also, I’m a lefty goalie, so I’ve also been teaching myself to play right-handed to help develop my reflexes and make me a more versatile player.”