Varsity lacrosse teams rebuild after losing 23 seniors

Heidi Roenisch

Both varsity lacrosse teams face major changes after a combined 23 seniors graduated last season.

The boys team lost 13 seniors, who made up over half of the team and most of the starting lineup. Graduated players included Liam Bourke, the MCAL Player of the Year, and MCAL first team members Patrick Tracy, Matt Kennis, and Oliver Madison.

Varsity coach Blake Atkins said that the transition has gone relatively smoothly.

Sophomore Zane Feldmen-Isaksen (left) and teammate Cooper Weingart take on several defenders during practice on Ghilotti Field.
Sophomore Zane Feldmen-Isaksen (left) and teammate Cooper Weingart take on several defenders during practice on Ghilotti Field.

“We’ve had to adjust our playing style, but our captains, Ethan Baer and  Matt Tracy,  have been with the varsity program for three and a half years,”  Atkins said. “They  have seen how strong we can be and have taken all of  these younger guys under  their wing.”

Atkins said that their limited number of upperclassmen have still made an  impact.

“We have only four or five seniors total, but they’re all veterans and have  done a  great job getting everyone involved and showing them what it takes  to compete at  this level,” he said. “They’ve also been really welcoming, which  helped to make our  team chemistry so strong.”

According to Atkins, underclassmen have stepped up to fill a greater role.

“Our younger guys, especially the sophomores, have been learning and improving extremely quickly,” he said.

Atkins thinks that the team has a realistic chance of winning the league championship.
“It was a heavy year of losses league wide,” Atkins said. “I know that Novato lost several key players, and Marin Catholic lost almost their entire offensive lineup. Given that, we’re right there in the title mix with those two programs.”

However, Atkins said that several adjustments must be made in order for the team to a contender in MCALs.
“We still need to improve at face offs and controlling the tempo, making sure we’re playing our style at the tempo we want,” Atkins said. “We also need to tighten our defense and become more aggressive, even more so than we were last year.”

Senior Phil Winnick defends a teammate.
Senior Phil Winnick defends a teammate.

The team’s need for improvement was shown after they suffered a 8-7 loss to Marin Academy on March 6, a team that they crushed 15-3 last year.

The girls’ varsity team is also without several key players this year. The 10 seniors that graduated included MCAL first team midfielder Ariella Rosenthal, and MCAL second team defender Julia Schnoll.

Captain Kendra Loo said that such a dramatic change required a shift in both playing style and traditional team composition, as this year’s squad has only one senior, goalie Christine Cook.

“We lost about half our team,” Loo said. “It’s really difficult losing that many people at once because you lose their experience.”

According to Loo, the team has rallied to fill the seniors’ shoes.

“We have a strong base of juniors that have been playing together for a couple years,” Loo said. “But we’re definitely relying on talented underclassmen more than usual to step up and help the team.”

Loo believes that once the team learns each other’s playing styles they will become much stronger.

Freshman Caroline Watkins beats a defender during a scrimmage against Marin Catholic.
Freshman Caroline Watkins beats a defender during a scrimmage against Marin Catholic.

First year girls’ varsity head coach Isaac Campbell views the loss of so many  seniors  as its own kind of advantage.

“It’s actually a good thing having such a young team because I know that I’ll  be  working with this squad for at least two years, so that gives us a chance to  build  something special,” Campbell said. “If we don’t win MCALs this year, it  will  definitely happen next year.”

Campbell said that he was impressed with the team’s initial bond.

“I would say that given the limited amount of time the girls have spent  together, the  chemistry is better than it’s ever been,” Campbell said.

Another change the team faces is having a new coach. Campbell’s previous  experience is in coaching boys’ lacrosse, which is a very different game.

However, Loo said that Campbell has learned to adapt.

“He’s definitely having to learn the game alongside us, but he picks it up quickly,” Loo said. “His teaching style is good regardless of whether [he’s coaching] guys or girls.”

Campbell, the former boys’ JV coach, said he has enjoyed the transition process.

“It’s a different game, but the transition from boys to girls has been great,” said Campbell. “These girls work harder and have more fun doing it than the guys, which I love.”

Campbell has high expectations for the season. “We’re going to win, but also have a culture of teamwork and fun,” he said. “With the current team, we can accomplish all of that.”

The team showed their strength by defeating St. Francis 14-12 on March 13, a team they lost to 15-7 last year.

The boys’ current record is 2-5, while the girls are 5-3.