Growing up, Cheshire High School senior Raegan Bailey played multiple sports, but feels that she was raised to have a passion for lacrosse. After playing the game at the University of Hartford, her dad Lee coached in the CHS boys’ program and shared his knowledge with Raegan and her younger sister Julia.
“My dad taught me almost everything I know,” reflected Bailey. “He still coaches the summer program for Team 203. It is good to know someone who understands the sport as well as he does.”
She has utilized her deep background in enjoying a stellar career at CHS. While having her 2020 season canceled by the coronavirus pandemic, Bailey had already compiled 83 goals and 33 assists in her first two years.
“I love everything about lacrosse,” said Bailey, who picked up the sport at age 4. “I knew that I had to keep playing in college.”
In accepting a Division II scholarship to compete at the University of New Haven, Bailey will continue to display her stick skills locally.
“I’m really excited,” stated Bailey. “The team has a competitive schedule and Jen Fallon is an amazing coach.”
“I think she’ll do great there,” said CHS girls’ lacrosse head coach Dan Warburton. “UNH will get a really good player who loves the game of lacrosse.”
Bailey looked at Le Moyne College in New York, but wanted to stay to closer to home in Connecticut.
“I’m really excited to have my family be able to come watch me play games,” said Bailey. “I also look forward to coming home when I want to in college.”
In her recruiting process, Bailey was drawn to the opportunity to compete again with 2019 Cheshire graduate Annie Acquavita, a sophomore attack player at UNH. At CHS, the friends contributed to a deep offensive unit for two years.
“I loved playing with her on the Cheshire team,” recalled Bailey. “I look forward to being back with her for two more years.”
Acquavita received Northeast-10 Conference Rookie of the Week after tallying a college-high six goals and two assists in last Saturday’s 21-9 win over the College of the Saint Rose. She has 11 goals and three assists this year.
“She is a great player,” stated Bailey.
Last fall, Bailey appreciated Acquavita giving her a tour of the UNH campus.
“Annie helped me a lot,” recalled Bailey. “Due to COVID restrictions, I couldn’t go in most of the buildings with her, but then I went on a second tour with an admissions counselor and got to see more of the campus and meet Coach Fallon.”
After co-captaining the CHS field hockey team last fall, Bailey considered playing two sports in college, but chose to focus on academics and lacrosse.
“I want to see how my time management goes and then maybe look at walking onto the field hockey team or playing on the club level,” explained Bailey.
Before picking up field hockey in high school, Bailey developed her lacrosse skills in the Cheshire youth program. As she grew to 5 feet , 10 inches tall, Bailey used her height to see over opponents and find open teammates.
“I’ve played on attack for my whole career,” reflected Bailey. “On the draw, my height helps me to get to the higher balls.”
In joining the CHS program in 2018, she stepped to tally 30 goals and 12 assists.
“When I went to watch the high school team play in seventh and eighth grade, everyone looked bigger,” stated Bailey. “I didn’t expect to start as a freshman, but I worked hard to get my spot.”
“It is hard to have an immediate impact as a freshman in our program,” said Warburton. “Not only did Raegan play, but she contributed like she was a junior.”
After losing 12-10 to Daniel Hand in the Southern Connecticut Conference final, CHS made a push to make the Class L final four. In the semifinals, CHS took a 13-12 lead with 29 seconds left, but Ridgefield rallied to win 14-13 in overtime.
“It was an exciting experience even though it didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” stated Bailey.
As a sophomore, Bailey compiled 53 goals and 21 assists to earn All-Class L and All-SCC Second Team honors. She helped the Rams post the program’s first unbeaten SCC regular-season record.
In the conference final, Cheshire fell 11-10 to Guilford in overtime, but came back to earn the team’s first win (9-7) over Greenwich in the Class L First Round.
“We had amazing seniors on that team,” stated Bailey. “As a captain, Annie Eddy helped me just like a coach.”
Bailey looked forward to her junior season, but the pandemic kept the Rams from taking the field in 2020.
“It was super disappointing,” recalled Bailey. “We worked out at home and stayed in contact each other.”
The experience motivated Bailey to get ready for her field hockey season last fall. Due to health concerns, the state tourney was canceled, but Cheshire still went unbeaten in the regular season.
The Rams (11-1) reached the SCC Division A title game where they lost 5-1 to Guilford.
“The season was super exciting. With all the COVID issues, I think we handled everything very well,” said Bailey. “As a co-captain, it was great to work with (senior) Tarana (Eldredge). She is a good player and super nice.”
In her second season as a starter, Bailey broke through to post a career-high 14 goals and five assists. She received Offensive Player of the Year, as well as All-Class L and All-SCC First Team.
Bailey had two hat tricks, the second of which came in a 3-1 win over Branford in the SCC semifinals. The game represented the 200th victory for Eileen Wildermann, who recently stepped down after coaching for 13 years.
“Mrs. Wildermann is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Bailey reflected. “She is so nice and humble on and off the field.”
Bailey credits Wildermann and teammates for helping her learn to play field hockey. Prior to coming to CHS, she played volleyball in the fall at Dodd Middle School.
“At first, I didn’t understand why we couldn’t touch the ball with our feet. It took time to get used to that (rule),” said Bailey. “It is crazy to think that I could go on to get All-State. In the future, I hope that other freshmen decide to play and refuse to give up.”
As a sophomore, Bailey contributed to her field hockey team going undefeated in the regular season for the first time in 28 years. CHS lost their first game, 3-1, to Guilford in the SCC final, however, they advanced to the state final against Staples.
“Even though we lost (2-0), that was a special experience,” recalled Bailey. “It is surreal to think that we made it to the state championship.”
In starting her final season of lacrosse this spring, Bailey is motivated to bring a title to CHS. Between lacrosse and field hockey, her teams have placed second in four SCC finals, with three games coming against Guilford.
“As seniors, I hope that we make it to the championship and win the title because this is our last chance,” Bailey said.
Bailey is now captaining the Rams with Taylor Warburton and Sophia Kuhlthau. Sophia Vaill and Hailey Beling have also returned for their senior years.
“Sophie is a defender, Taylor plays in the mid-field, and I compete on attack, so we can lead from different parts of the field,” stated Bailey. “It is nice to be a captain, but every senior brings something special to the team.”
Bailey and Warburton have played on varsity since coming to CHS. Warburton has tallied 27 goals and seven assists in her career.
“It has been great playing with her,” said Bailey, who also competed with her friend in field hockey. “We’ve been making each other better since our youth days.”
Bailey feels that it is important to help out younger girls in the lacrosse program.
“Older players helped me when I was a freshman, so I want to reciprocate now,” explained Bailey.
On Saturday, Cheshire kicks off against Amity at 10 a.m. For games, players aren’t currently required to wear face masks except if they are taking the draw.
“It is personal preference if you wear one or not,” said Bailey. “We are all masked up in practice. We want to be as safe as possible, so that we can keep playing.”