Girls’ lacrosse: Steep learning curve inhibits otherwise strong team

March 16, 2010 — by Sophia Cooper

It’s never easy to have a team without a coach.

This was the situation presented for the girls’ lacrosse team until three weeks of season training had passed. Thankfully, three coaches came out of the woodwork and are now in charge of the second-season sport. Head coach Eleni Rodgers, former goalie at UC Santa Cruz, assistant coach and SHS class of ’01 grad Lynn Chou, former goalie at UC San Diego, and JV coach Lauren Junker, who played at UC Davis, stepped up to fill the gap.

“The new coaches are great. They fit in really well with us girls,” said sophomore goalie Megan Benzing. “I really like the fact that they have all played goalie before and they seem to all get along. They are going to help us so much this year.”

The Falcons finished their first week of coaching by participating in the Menlo School Jamboree on Feb. 27. This informal tournament consisted of four 25-minute games for girls to get back into the flow of the sport and to help train new refs. With just under 50 girls on the JV and varsity rosters, Saratoga sent two teams to the jamboree with a mix of new and experienced players on each.

“[The jamboree] went relatively well and we got to know our teammates better,” said freshman attack wing Jenny Guarino. “It also helped the JV girls to learn how to play the sport.”

Two preseason games against Notre Dame and Sacred Heart Prep on March 8 and 10, respectively, broke the rust off the girls for full-length games. While it got the Falcons back into adrenaline rush of competition, the girls also learned to expect the unexpected when a hail storm paused the Notre Dame game.

“[Playing in the hail] was awesome, especially since I had all my [goalie] pads on and wasn’t affected by it,” said Benzing. “I had all my defenders behind me. It was immensely cool; I could just hear [the hail] hitting my helmet.”

Both games ended in disappointing losses, 10-5 and 13-2, respectively. The losses underscored some areas where the girls say they need to get better: improving communication on the field, retrieving ground balls, and switching hands while cradling.

“I think our talented new coaches have been and will continue to provide us with new and interesting drills that can improve our game on all matters,” said Benzing. “We’ll probably do more things like the musical balls drill which gives people the oppurtunity to try and get a ground ball with a bunch of people around.”

Key players for the season include first, second, and third homes (offense) juniors Vanessa Block and Cassie Tran and senior co-captain Jodi Huang, junior center Ren Norris, and senior point (defense) co-captain Sophia Cooper and senior defensive wing Lauren McInnis on defense. Benzing remains varsity’s only goalie. Underclassmen run strong on the team with Guarino playing as a starter and many sophomores filling the roster.

“We are a great team and I think we can improve a lot this year by just trying our best and helping each other achieve our goals,” said Benzing.

The Falcons played at Harker on March 15 and against St. Francis High School in Mountain View on March 17, but due to printing deadlines the results could not be published. They take on Palo Alto today at 4 at Palo Alto.

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