Athletic Pinelands Girls Lacrosse Team Pursues More Spring Victories
After winning just twice last year, along with losing five players to graduation, the Pinelands Regional girls lacrosse team is banking on its youth to help solidify the squad enough so the Wildcats secure a few more victories this season.
“We have a lot of young players,” said Ellie Sorrentino, one of a handful of seniors expected to see plenty of playing time once the Wildcats opened their season against Shore Conference Class B South division foe Lacey on April 6. “But the good thing is, we have a lot of athletes, and many of the younger players have a lot of ability and skill. So, I believe we can do more this season and maybe get a few more wins.”
Unfortunately, playing in B South without enough experienced players doesn’t often work out so well – not with typically high-scoring Point Pleasant Borough, Lacey and Jackson Liberty roaming about. Still, the Wildcats intend to make their mark.
“We’re going to have to work well as a unit, both on offense and defense,” said senior Kayla Nilsen, one of the squad’s defenders. “We have skilled players and the potential to play really well. Last year, we didn’t fulfill that potential because we didn’t work well enough as a unit. This year, that’s something we have to do better.”
Offensively, senior Emily White and sophomores Fiona Farrell and Hannah Santillanes are expected to lead the charge as primary attackers. Another sophomore, Catherine Coverdale, will be seeing time on the attack as well as defense. All of them are new to the varsity squad this season.
In the midfield, Sorrentino will be at the center, while returning senior Susie Cardillo and sophomore newcomer Emily Staino likely will cover the outside.
“Communicating well is going to be a big key for us,” Sorrentino said. “A lot of us have played other sports together, so we should do that pretty well. But it’s going to be up to the seniors to lead the way on that. We have to come through.”
Fortunately, the Wildcats have a bunch of returning players in the back, including Nilsen, classmate Chloe Schulze, junior Kaylee Braddock and sophomore Samantha Volak. Junior newcomer Alexis Bruno is expected to be an impact player on defense as well, and sophomore newcomer Jada Marnin will gain valuable experience in front of the goal.
Hopefully, the experience in the back will translate into coach Paul Millar’s club doing a better job possessing the ball – possibly the most important aspect to success in lacrosse.
“We can’t rush the ball up the field and just throw shots from anywhere,” Nilsen said. “We’re going to have to work the ball better, spread it around and maintain the possessions until we get a good shot. One thing we have going for us is we have players with a lot of athleticism. That’s going to help a lot.”
And even if the Wildcats struggle scoring victories, at least at the outset, the other good thing is that the team’s youthful players will gain a load of experience, which should benefit them later in the season and beyond.
“I definitely believe we’re going to be a stronger team as we go along,” Nilsen said. “We’re trying to rebuild the program, and it can start with us.”
— David Biggy