Girls lacrosse values defensive focus to cope with loss of key seniors

Coming off of a successful 2015 campaign last spring, there is one large question at hand for the PHS girls varsity lacrosse team this season: How will they rebound with the loss of players from last year’s squad, including the star defender Oona Ryle ’15, goalkeeper Mira Shane ’15, and defense player Campbell McDonald ’15? The answer rests in the hands of the girls on the team and second-year Head Coach David Schlesinger. Last year, at the helm of the team, Schlesinger guided the Tigers through a season full of ups and downs, during which the team won against several high-seeded teams, including Allentown High School and North Highlands High School.

Coach Schlesinger discussed the roster turnover. “We lost three fantastic student athletes to graduation after last season: Mira Shane, Oona Ryle, and Campbell McDonald. All three distinguished themselves as players and leaders both on and off the field. We will certainly miss them,” he said.

However, he was also quick to note that this is nothing new and has happened many times before. “That is life in high school athletics; you only get to coach student athletes for a max of four years. As players graduate, younger players mature and new players enter the school. So as much as the loss of the graduated hurts, the excitement of our new and developing players certainly makes up for it,” Schlesinger said.

This year, Schlesinger plans to use the experience of upperclassmen to help guide the team. “[The team] relies on a great group of senior leaders to develop and improve daily, while also having our juniors stepping into bigger roles.” Schlesinger said.

Attacker Julia Ryan 16 believes that the team will be able to cope with the vacancies left behind by the graduates, and is confident in the underclassmen and the impact they will make. “We have some younger players who are ready to step up big time in the defensive end. We still have our three other starting defenders from last year, so that will help a lot,” Ryan said.

JuliaRyan

Photo by Annie Kim

Ryan described the priorities for the team in this season. “The most important thing I think we need to do to be successful is really keep our defense strong. We play against some really great offensive teams so it’s critical that our one versus one defense is strong, and that the help slides always come,” Ryan said.

Several components of this plan will rely on the hard work of the team. This will be supported by the commitment of the many returners and upperclassmen, as well as the new talent of the underclassmen.

Ryan discussed the goals that the team has in its upcoming season. “The [goals] obviously include tangible things such as making a run at the Colonial Valley Conference division title and hopefully advancing in the state tournament,” Ryan said. “We will also try to work on many technicality issues and try to develop all of our players the best we can.”

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