Smithsburg always seems to be a little ahead of the curve in Washington County when it comes to lacrosse.
Of course, it helps when the Leopards have two of the best players in the county on their rosters.
Smithsburg’s boys return last year’s county Player of the Year, senior Cullan Ganley, who has already committed to Lynchburg College.
“Cullan’s one of our tri-captains and it’s obviously a great thing to have him back this year,” said coach Joe Dietrich. “He’s really looking to make a statement this year and shoot himself off into college.”
As for Smithsburg’s girls, Player of the Year candidate Taylor Cline is back following an outstanding sophomore season.
“She’s awesome, she’s very good, but very humble,” said coach Cheryl Dietrich. “She would tell you it’s a whole team effort, not just one person.
“And I let them know that it’s important to be a team, not a single player.”
Hubs coach Katie Eck expects a stronger team in 2011.
“We definitely look a lot stronger than in previous years,” Eck said. “We have more of an influx of kids from HAYLA, more kids coming in with experience than in the past.”
Senior Kristen Mazzei will run the midfield for North. She’ll be joined by Maddie Palkovitz and Anna Compton, a pair of sophomores with experience on travel teams.
“They’re young girls, but they have played a lot and they do everything that’s asked of them,” Eck said. “And Kristen is definitely one of the leaders on the field, very determined. She has very good stick skills.”
The Hubs have two goalies vying for the starting position: Junior Jackie Stewart and freshman Emma Moss. Like many of the other North players, both have experience in the local youth program.
“It just makes for stronger competition when your goalies are strong,” Eck said. “And we have some depth this year. It’s exciting to sub players and there’s no loss in skill level.”
First-year coach Katherine Dyson finds herself in a unique situation: She still hasn’t been able to put her team together.
“We’re just coming back from break and haven’t really had a chance to get everyone together to try out,” Dyson said. “So we’ll begin tryouts Monday and then see how everyone will end up working together.”
Dyson is aware that the Saints graduated six starters from a year ago, including county Player of the Year Courtney Peterson.
Dyson is counting on seniors Morgan Stephens, Megan McSillen, Christiana Tiches and Ashley Seibineiken for skill and leadership.
The Saints also return their top scorer from last season, junior Margaret Bacon.
“She was a powerhouse in field hockey and everyone has told me she’s an even better lacrosse player,” Dyson said. “I’m looking forward to seeing that.”
The Leopards lost eight seniors to graduation, but still return a fair amount of experience this season.
In addition to Cline, Nadya Gutierrez, Dominique DiLandro and goalkeeper Danielle Harbaugh are back this season. Junior Sidney Smith and senior Janice Edwards will spearhead the defense in front of Harbaugh.
“It’s a big help having them down there in front of Dani,” said coach Cheryl Dietrich. “Dani is very good in goal, but if you don’t have some good defenders out there too, it doesn’t matter how good your goalie is.”
Sophomore Emily Seward and senior Lauren Parks will lead the Smithsburg attack, and Dietrich expects contributions from three freshmen: Jamie Ewing, Sarah Thompson and Emma Gerhold.
Bruce Buhrman is back for his 11th year as South’s coach, and for the first time, the Rebels will field a junior varsity team.
“We have 29 players total in the program,” Buhrman said. “The JV team is not very big, but we’re there at least for the start of the season.”
South returns 13 players from a team that did not win a game in the regular season last year, but did win its opening playoff game.
Among the returnees are defender Rebecca Canova, midfielder Courtney Jenkins and goalkeeper Lindsay Beall — all seniors Buhrman will count on for leadership on the field.
Other seniors who Buhrman expects to contribute are Jessica Rooney, Amanda McGee, Kimmie Mauck and Anna Blevins.
“We hope with the experience that we have back this year that things will be better in the win column for us,” Buhrman said.
St. Maria Goretti
For the first time, the Gaels will field a team with players only from Goretti as they continue the transition from a club team to a varsity program.
“We were pulling some girls from North before because they didn’t have enough to field a JV team,” said coach Renee Brennan. “But we have 16 girls on the roster this year, all from Goretti. So we’re definitely seeing some growth.”
Among those 16 players, Brennan has what she calls a “good mix of talent” — some who have lots of experience, others who never held a lacrosse stick prior to the first practice. But the Gaels do have a core of eight players who have played together in youth programs for several years.
Senior Alexa Radley and junior Nicole Brennan bring upperclassman leadership, while sophomores Maggie Murray, Jessica Swarner, Denise Wells and Casey Caruso provide the Gaels with skill among their younger players.
Goretti will play a schedule mixed with varsity and JV opponents as it prepares to go to a full varsity schedule in 2012.
Lacrosse has drawn a crowd at Boonsboro.
“I’m proud of how many girls have come out to play,” said coach Sue Funke. “In a time when kids try to be cool, it’s great to see all these girls coming out to try something new.”
Boonsboro has 27 girls on a roster that will play a junior varsity schedule for a second straight season before it can become a varsity sport in 2012. There are more players on the way since the Boonsboro Area Athletic Association has started a youth program.
The Warriors will be led by sophomore Alex Green on attack, junior Shelby Hanes on defense and junior Natalii Pitts in the midfield. The goalkeeping duties will be shared by junior Kara Reese and freshman Maeve Windsor.
Boonsboro’s team has no seniors — they’re not allowed to play on junior varsity teams — which means everyone will be back next season. But this season allows the Warriors to get everything down.
“We are going to be competitive,” Funke said. “This season will give us a chance to work to be a top-notch team next year.”