Following the graduation of key players Hayden Dean, Kendra Loo and Kaylee Bushell, the girls’ varsity lacrosse team finds itself in an unfamiliar position, scrambling to fill the holes that last year’s seniors left.
Senior leaders Neeve Kennedy and Kendall Shaver and junior Caroline Watkins are in a position to step up and fill the gap.
This year, the team is headed by a new coach, Kyle Kennedy.
“With a new coach there is always change, and so part of that [challenge] is working through change. Change can be good. Change can be bad. It depends on your perspective. The players are getting used to me as their coach,” Kyle said.
Neeve has taken on additional leadership in order to help facilitate the coaching transition, including informing Kyle on plays that the team has run in the past.
The team lost 10 players, six of whom were starters, according to Watkins, which has allowed the team to integrate many new players.
“We need 12 to make a team so we’re going to have an influx of new talent and pull all that talent together, and I look forward to them really coming together as a team,” Kyle said. “With those missing pieces there is an opportunity for others to come in and fill the puzzle.”
Kyle will not only have the job of establishing himself as a coach but also helping the team recover from the loss of many players.
“[For] every player that we lost last year, we lost some part of the team because they were here for a long time. Hayden Dean, Kendra Loo, Carli Jacks, Emma Mulvey all provided something unique and tangible to the team that brought the team together,” Kyle said.
Neeve, the only returning captain, will take the responsibility of incorporating new players and developing a new team dynamic.
“I’m so used to playing with Hayden and Kendra and I know exactly how Kaylee and all those girls play, so it’s going to be a new transition learning how to play with these new girls coming up,” Neeve said.
According to Kyle, the loss of players left a breach in the defense.
“You can have the most prolific offense, but if you can’t stop another team your chances of winning are dropping each and every time a goal in sports,” Kyle said.
With this mindset, Kyle looks to focus on and build up the defense.
“We have a strong attack, we have a strong midfield, but what I’m really focusing the team on is defensive and communication,” Kyle said.
Neeve and Kyle both believe that the key to coming back from such a drastic loss of players is developing the connection between the up-coming players.
“We are going to try really hard to work as a team more because the team chemistry will put us over the edge,” Neeve said.
Watkins also thinks that working in unison is a fundamental aspect of the team.
“It’s going to be all about working together. It’s not going to be one specific player taking the ball down,” Watkins said.
Once that chemistry is built, Kyle believes it will help launch them into the playoffs at the end of the season. The team’s season came to a close last year after a loss in the semi-finals in the playoffs.
“The next goal is to build towards the end of the season so we can have a good playoff run in the MCAL,” Kyle said.
The team will also enter the season without a trained goalie. Fresh out of varsity soccer, juniors Audrey Peck and Lauren Blazei will try their first season of lacrosse as goalies and defenders.
Neeve and Watkins both look forward to playing their biggest rivals, Marin Catholic and Novato. According to Neeve, Marin Catholic is in the same position as them, losing all but one of their top players, but Novato has a strong returning team and remains unaffected by the loss of previous seniors.
The team’s next league game is this Saturday at Granite Bay High School.