IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Go ahead, call Greer Bireley’s post-goal celebration in lacrosse games an Irish jig. The Glenbrook South junior attack would love the reference to the island in the North Atlantic.
And get quite a kick out of it.
“The running joke on our team is how often Greer talks about Ireland,” Titans senior defender Ellie Kahle says. “She always talks about Ireland, always shares fun facts about Ireland with us.”
Bireley typically jumps straight up after scoring a goal and, upon landing, directs an inimitable look at a teammate or two.
“That’s her scary, cheery face,” Kahle says. “Then she throws her arms up.”
The aficionado of all things Ireland played like an All-America lacrosse player in a Glenbrook North Sectional semifinal May 23, whipping in a team-high seven goals — all in the first half — in South’s 19-5 defeat of the host school. The team’s top scorer this spring and third-year varsity player also finished with three assists in the playoff game, with one of them landing in the webbing of freshman sister Meg Bireley’s stick.
“Greer’s stick is a magnet,” Titans coach Annie Lesch says. “She’s the quarterback of our attack, and she’s a selfless player who goes hard, loves to compete and has a true passion for the game. Very coachable, too. She’s always asking, ‘Did I do that the right way?’ ”
What’s unquestionable: Bireley’s talent, coupled with her super work ethic. A Team ONE lacrosse club player since the seventh grade, the left-handed Bireley verbally committed to play lacrosse at Butler University last fall.
“Greer doesn’t just put points on the board in a hurry for us,” Kahle says. “She has this way about her, a quality that keeps her teammates’ energy up, especially if we hit a rough patch. That’s a huge asset; it gets us in the right mindset. Her personality is magnetic. She makes everybody laugh. She keeps morale high.”
Bireley’s deceptiveness in games keeps opponents flustered and frustrated — and, more often than not, envious.
“Greer is very good at fooling defenders,” Kahle says, adding Bireley’s quick feet often allows her to leave those guarding her in a tangled, reeling mess. “She fakes you out, and before you know it, she’s already behind you, preparing to take a wide-open shot. Her shots and passes this year [compared to last year] are smarter.”
Palatine native Kelly Bireley, a soccer player and track and field athlete in her youth, signed her daughter up for a spot on a lacrosse house league team when Greer was a third-grader. Greer had played other sports, but the other sports took either a back seat or a trunk seat to lax in no time.
“The strategies involved, how competitive it is, the team aspect of it — there’s a lot to like about lacrosse,” says Bireley, who burned St. Ignatius with a nine-goal effort April 30.
About those nine goals …
Bireley refuses to take full credit for any of them.
“My teammates,” she recalls, “fed me nice passes. There’s no way I would have scored any of those goals without the help of my teammates. We’re a good team because we don’t have any superstars; we all work together.
“My favorite moment in lacrosse, in any game, is a transition sequence, when our ‘D’ controls the ball and starts passing it, with the ball eventually traveling all the way to our attack and ending up as a goal.”
Two years ago, in her freshman season on varsity, Bireley finished a crisp Titans transition with a game-winning goal against Lyons Township. Lindsey Karsh, then a Glenbrook South junior middie (and now sophomore-to-be and Big Red middie at Denison University in Ohio), delivered the clutch assist to Bireley in the second overtime.
“What a pass,” Bireley says.
What a humble teen, with a unique first name.
“My papa [grandpa, on her mother’s side] was named Gregory, and Greer is the female version of Gregory,” says Bireley, the daughter of Loyola Academy graduate and Wilmette native Matt Bireley. “He died [in 1998] before I was born. My mom told me her father was a very nice guy, a funny man.
“And,” she adds, “he did crew in college.”
Glenbrook South’s girls lacrosse program, to the delight of Lesch and others, gets to row, row, row its “boat” with Greer Bireley in it for one more season.
Notable: Glenbrook South’s girls lacrosse team fell 14-7 to New Trier in the Glenbrook North Sectional final May 25, ending up with a 15-9 record. … Titans freshman middie Belle Tiesi scored three goals in Glenbrook South’s 19-5 defeat of host Glenbrook North in a sectional semifinal May 23. Senior attacks Miranda Piotrowicz and Meghan Zeivel each struck for two tallies. Lila Frick, Kate Brennan, Annabel Eigel, Meg Bireley and Mary Grace Reynolds had one goal apiece. South juniors Delaney Gallagher (first half) and Annika Newell (second half) split time in goal for the victors (15-8). Glenbrook North senior middie and quad-captain Naomi Lutz poured in four goals, including both of the Spartans’ second-half tallies. Senior middie/attack Nat Wolas, another quad-captain (with seniors Lindsey Masterman and Ellie Linforth, scored the Spartans’ other goal. GBN finished with a 10-7 record.