St. Dom’s Caroline Gastonguay works against Erskine’s Olivia Kunesh during the Class C semifinals in June. (Lee Horton/Sun Journal)
Caroline Gastonguay’s goal scoring was down during her senior season, but that was fine with her.
The high-scoring midfielder still put the ball in the net 56 times this season — a tremendous amount, but down from her totals in St. Dominic Academy’s first two seasons as a varsity program. Her assists, though, skyrocketed to 74 this year, more than half of her three-year varsity career total.
“I actually enjoyed it right off the bat,” Gastonguay said. “I do like assisting more than I like scoring, I like being the playmaker and setting up plays rather than finishing them.”
Gastonguay’s switch to a distributing role was planned. The Saints had several younger players who needed to learn the offense, and they also had several scoring options.
“We modified her role on the team to be more of a facilitator versus a goal scorer,” St. Dom’s coach Leslie Klenk said. “And although she did score a lot of goals, she was instrumental in setting up almost every one of our motion offenses.”
The scoring options included Gastonguay’s sister, Charlotte, a freshman, who led the Saints with 66 goals.
“It was really special to play with her this year,” Caroline Gastonguay said. “I wish we had more time together.”
Emma Theriault and Avery Lutrzykowski each scored 29 goals, and Mia-Angelina Leslie scored 28. Their scoring prowess left Caroline Gastonguay with plenty of options.
“I’m really happy that a lot more girls got involved in the scoring this year,” Gastonguay said.
Gastonguay, though, tended to look for her own shot more aggressively when the Saints needed a goal.
In the regular-season loss to Lake Region, Gastonguay forced overtime with two goals in the final 62 seconds.
“I think we knew that, obviously, we had to score to win,” Gastonguay said. “I don’t think it really mattered who was to score those goals, I just had the opportunity to.”
She also scored the game-winning goal in the overtime win over Greely, and had a few big goals in the Saints’ rally from a five goals down to beat Freeport in the regular-season finale.
“It’s funny, because in all three of those games, we had to come from behind,” Klenk said. “It’s just her competitive nature that kicked in. She just kind of lifted her level of play to beyond what she usually does, which is great, but this was just another level that she was able to reach that really helped our team.”
One of her goals against Freeport was the 200th of her varsity career (in three seasons). She finished with 212.
“It’s a personal accolade, of course,” Klenk, who is Gastonguay’s mother, said, “but those 200 goals are attributable to our team doing better, and that’s kind of how she looks at it, it’s not her personal goal but it’s something she was able to give back to the team.”
The Saints had the best season of their three-year varsity history, defeating several high-caliber Class B and C teams and making a run to the inaugural Class C state title game, which the lost to Lake Region.
“It was a really fun season,” said Gastonguay, who has signed to play at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. “I think we knew that we had the opportunity to do something special, and it was just a matter of working hard and getting to that point, but we had a lot of fun along the way.”
St. Dom’s Caroline Gastonguay maneuvers around the goal as Freeport’s Allison Greuel defends during the regular-season finale at Freeport High School. (Lee Horton/Sun Journal)
St. Dom’s midfielder Caroline Gastonguay fires a shot toward the goal against Lake Region during a regular-season matchup in Naples in May. Lake Region won the game in double overtime. (Lee Horton/Sun Journal)