New girls’ lacrosse coach AC Decker is looking to build on the program’s past success– and more.
After spending the past four years as a referee, AC Decker is looking forward to leading the Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls’ lacrosse program this spring.
“I’ve been working on development of goalies,” said Decker, whose spent many years working with the Hingham and Norwell lacrosse programs. “I’ve been involved in growing programs, so it seems like a good fit for me at Whitman-Hanson.”
And the Panthers are certainly a growing program, having made the tournament four out of the past five seasons under the tutelage of former head coach Dave Rowell, despite playing a rigorous Patriot League schedule.
“My goal is to do at least the minimum of what they’ve been doing,” Decker said. “They have a really good base.”
Decker said he’s looking to build on the foundation Rowell poured, while implementing a few of his own tweaks.
“An example (of a tweak) on defense is how to hold the stick,” said the first-year head coach. “They tended to hold the stick straight up or tipped forward, and I want the bottom hand out and the stick tipped backward.
“On offense, everybody can play lefty and righty. They’re more comfortable typically with their right hand. So if they catch the ball in their right hand, heading toward the defender, the defender checks it and they lose the ball and that’s been happening. So I’m really pushing them to use the outside hand, no matter what hand it is.”
Coming off a 10-10 season, which included a tournament win, the Panthers were hit hard by graduation. They lost Kasey Molito (their single-season saves leader) in net, Lauren Bonavita (team-high 67 goals) and defenders Cam Boyce and Camille Miller. Senior captain Annika Putur was their only returning defender, and she’s out for the season with a torn ACL.
Freshman Joli Flamos and junior Marissa Connell are likely to anchor the Panthers on defense. The position behind them, goalie, is a three-way battle between senior Marie Foscaldo, junior Brooke Beauregard and freshman Ava Barry.
While the defense is a bit uncertain, the offense is not. Senior captain and attacker Zoe Lydon (30 goals and 23 assists) and junior midfielder Riley Bina (29 goals and 21 assists) will shoulder the load.
“I see them definitely as key contributors,” Decker said. “We can strike pretty quickly, which is something I focused on. We’ve really worked on where to position yourself. When the transitions have occurred, they’re done it really well.”
Seniors, captain and attack Samantha Whitman and midfielder Savannah Poirier, should also both contribute on offense as well.
The Panthers will be back in action Thursday, April 4 at 4 p.m. at Hingham.
“I’m looking for the girls to implement 85 percent of what I taught them,” Decker said. “I think we’ll do well with that. We have some pretty competitive teams early on. My goal is to be the best team we can the first day of the playoffs.”