A community newspaper serving western Albemarle County

Girls Lacrosse Seeks to Turn the Tide

By Eric J. Wallace

From top row, left to right: assistant coach Dana Boyle, Colby Carbo, Marlena Flynn, Shelby Flynn, Captain Genevieve Russell, Mady Starsia, Izzy Shaffrey, Anna Fagerli, Madeline Hamer, Saoirse Heneghan, head coach Tara Hohenshelt. Lizzie Kelly, Ann Carter Sipe, Annie Meenan, Audrey Russell, Marley Herring, Katherine Krese, captain Bella Moriconi, captain Joie Funk, captain Hanna Schuler. Catherine Adams, Anne Patterson, Kira Repich, Reid Ferguson, Anna Kreienbaum, Courtney Schoeb, Erin Flynn, Ava DiVita. Not pictured: Heidi Hahn, Gigi Goldstein. (Photo: TSS Photography)

Following a successful season in which the team won the district, conference and regional title, and advanced to the state semi-finals, the WAHS girls lacrosse team graduated seven starters. For many programs, that kind of loss would spell a season dedicated to rebuilding. But for head coach Tara Hohenshelt’s Lady Warriors, that’s far from the case. With a roster of 28 players, including 10 seniors, Hohenshelt said the transition was easy due to the team’s culture of leadership. “I think that last year’s girls led by example and did a great job of raising the bar for those around them and teaching the younger players how to really take care of their teammates,” she said. “So now we see the new seniors taking what they learned and applying it to the current situation. While it’s true we’re feeling the loss, our graduates left a legacy of being competitive and taking care of one another through serving as strong mentors.”

Seeking to solidify that strong core of leadership, the group drilled hard throughout the preseason, working to hone individual skills. “During the season, the team becomes the primary focus, so we used those first weeks together as a way of building our confidence individually,” explained Hohenshelt. “We practiced a lot of ballhandling and put a lot of energy into conditioning.” Making matters easier was the fact the girls showed up wanting to get down to business. “They’re a tight knit team and take care of one another like sisters. You could see them pushing each other, fighting to do their best,” added Hohenshelt. “It was amazing to see how hungry they were—they came to practice ready to work and showed tremendous commitment and hustle. And that’s carried over into the season.”

However, the season began a bit bumpy. The team lost three of its first five official games, but according to Hohenshelt, they have gelled and are on the upswing, winning their last three games, including big wins against Monticello and Midlothian.

Leading the charge are senior midfielders Hanna Schuler, Bella Moriconi, Joie Funk and Genevieve Russell. Together, the four serve as the team’s captains. “Hanna has signed to play at Arizona State University and is the player on our team that’s constantly making things happen whether that’s on the ball or getting the ball back into our possession,” said Hohenshelt. “She exhibits amazing work ethic and hustle and is great at being vocal and honest with her teammates and offering great advice.”

Meanwhile, Moriconi is known for her attention to detail and ability to finesse the small things. “She gets the draws, picks up groundballs cleanly, sets up teammates and is always hustling back for defense,” said Hohenshelt. “Despite her offensive presence, she’s the first one on the ball on defense. She’s basically our rock.”

Then there’s Funk, an all-around star who plays a utility role in the team’s midfield: “She can handle the ball and put in the back of the net, but can also mark-up a top attacker on an opposing team and shut them down.”

Lastly there’s Russell, who serves as the squad’s glue: “She’s very calm, positive, enthusiastic. She keeps everyone together—keeps everyone light, the conversation light—and is really able to boost morale and help the person next to her.”        

Hehenshelt shrugged when asked for a postseason prediction. “We don’t talk so much about wins and losses but playing to potential,” she said. “We try to focus on things like competing on every play, starting and finishing every game, playing hard to every whistle. We say: ‘Control the controllables, follow the game-plan!’—that’s what our conversations are about. Because it doesn’t make sense to talk about the end-result when you need to focus on what it is that gets you there.”

Being part of a lacrosse team comes down to more than simply playing the sport, she said. “It’s the experience of being a part of something that’s bigger than you, about being a good teammate and looking out for the person next to you, communicating and giving your best effort. Those are the skills that’re valuable well after you’re done playing.”

Tagged as: , , ,

Leave a Response

To encourage constructive conversation, The Crozet Gazette requests all commenters to use their first and last names. Email addresses will not be published and are requested so that the Gazette may be able to contact you about your comment only. You will not be subscribed to any email lists. Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment.