When girls’ lacrosse coach Julie Catrambone looks out on the field during practices she sees an energetic and eager group of players ready to make their mark on the sport.
Unfortunately, that group is a little smaller than she would like.
Thanks to an injury bug and a smaller-than-expected turnout, West Deptford is entering the season with just over 20 healthy players in its program. And while some of those players can more than hold their own, the lack of depth has made it difficult to for Catrambone to see exactly what she has this season.
“It’s been a little rough because we are very small and we do not have depth out there,” said Catrambone. “(Monday) we only had 20 kids practice, so you can’t really scrimmage with that and it is hard. We have a couple players who haven’t played before or haven’t played in a few years, so there will be a learning curve for them.”
The team will look to collectively pick up the scoring lost when striker Jenna Grady graduated last spring. Grady was a focal point of the Eagles' offense the last two years, and will not easily be replaced. Catrambone expects heavy contributions from captains Rachel Krott and Jess Hill, as well as returners Paige Paratore, Emily Whelan and Maddie Waschko.
“I hope we have nice roundabout scoring,” she said. “It’s not just one person doing the scoring, it’s about everyone getting involved and we have done that well in the past.”
Junior Dahlia VanDorick and sophomore Alyssa Sorrentino are competing for the starting goalie job, and may split time early in the season. Senior captain Deanna Szymborski will be counted on to lead the defense.
Even though the Eagles enter the season surrounded by uncertainty, Catrambone is optimistic that the team will have fun this spring.
“The girls are very eager to learn and enthusiastic and work hard,” she said. “We are just trying to get them to realize that if they put out the hard work, hopefully we win some games. We are doing things the proper way and having fun. Regardless of what their record is, I hope they take something out of the season and have fun.”
Coach: Julie Catrambone
Last year: 6-13
Returning letter winners: Deanna Szymborski, (sr.); Jess Hill,
(sr.); Maddie Waschko, (sr.); Emily Whalin, (jr.); Rachel Krott, ( jr.); Paige
Paratore (so.); Tarryn Bundy, (sr.).
Promising newcomers: Gabby Minitti (so.); Dahlia VanDorick (jr.);
Alyssa Sorrentino (so.); Shannon Jordan (so.); Cara Spector (fr.); Mackenzie Thayres (fr.).
Team to beat: Seneca
Outlook: The Eagles expect to be competitive this season, but with their lack of depth it may be difficult to surpass last season’s win total. Look for this team to be better in the second half of the season than the first.
Three storylines to follow:
–Jess Hill’s expanded role. Two years ago, Hill was knocked unconscious and was forced to miss much of her sophomore season. Now in her senior year, Hill will be a focal point of the Eagles offense and appears primed for a breakout season.
–Freshman impact. Cara Spector and Mackenzie Thayres are both expected to see varsity minutes this year and Catrambone believes they can both blossom into goal-scorers. “Cara as a freshman has no fear going to the goal,” Catrambone said. “Mackenzie is picking up the game well and hopefully she will score some goals for us.”
–Quick measuring stick. Catrambone believes the team’s opener against Paul VI will give her a good idea of what type of season the team could be in for. Paul VI is generally a below-average team, so the West Deptford coach is hopeful for a good showing that will help build the confidence of the team.