The girls’ lax team had a 7-11 record and bunch of injuries.
It was yet another injury-riddled campaign for the Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls’ lacrosse team.
Senior captain Annika Putur (whole season), senior goaltender Marie Foscaldo (out for season after spring break), senior starting defenders Chloe O’Neil (six-plus games) and Gabby Trongone (seven-plus games), junior starting midfielder Riley Bina (seven games), sophomore Maggie Newcomb (six games), freshman starting goalie Ava Barry (last four games) and junior defender Treasa Duffy (missed most of the first half of season) missed significant time as the Panthers missed out on the tournament for just the second time in the last six years with a 7-11 record.
First-year head coach AC Decker said that despite the sub-.500 record, he felt the season went well.
“I feel I met the team where they were at and threw a lot of new concepts their way as the season went on,” he said. “I think they really gelled as a team.”
The Panthers’ performance in a rigorous Patriot League didn’t do them any favors. They went 2-9 against their league foes.
“It’s a tough league to move up in,” Decker said. “We had a pattern of starting games slowly and that let teams get out to an early lead. It’s hard to play from behind on a regular basis. We did better with this as the season went on, having some game where we played the full 50 minutes, but this is still a work in progress.”
What’s not a work in progress is Bina. Not even missing nearly 10 games could hold her back. She led the club with 37 goals, which she complemented with 13 helpers en route to Patriot League All-Star status.
“Riley earned the respect of her teammates due to her competitive nature and also her pure skill to transition the ball and find the back of the net with great shooting percentage,” Decker said. “She also tended to score more goals in competitive games than against easier opponents.”
Senior attack and captain Zoe Lydon was the lynchpin to the offense, racking up 35 goals and a team-high 53 points.
“Zoe leaves everything she has out on the field,” Decker said. “She takes it to the goal when needed and rides all the way to the other restraining line. She was one of the few players who consistently put in solid 50-minute games.”
Senior captain Sami Whitman (25 goals and nine assists), classmate Taylor Ross (20 goals and seven assists) and freshman Brooke Connors (12 goals and seven assists) also put forth solid offensive seasons.
One player that surprised Decker wasn’t on offense, but rather the other side of the field. It was freshman Joli Flamos, who started every game.
“Joli Flamos, who had not played before, was showing incredible speed, agility and a great sense of where to be on defense,” Decker said. “I took a risk and put her on varsity and the rest is history.”
Decker said the high point of the season for him wasn’t a win, a goal or a great play, but watching the girls gel – older and underclassmen.
“I remember at the end of season, at Pembroke during the JV game and the varsity players were sitting on the track joking with each and had to quiet themselves down,” he recalled. “I watched how the younger players were as much a part of it as the seniors. I remember smiling, thinking, ‘This is what it is all about, seeing them together as a team.’”
Decker said he has his work cut out for him over the next few months.
“In the offseason, I plan to go back through the game film and pull out select clips of things we do well and need to continue to do,” he said. “I will also take clips of what the other teams are doing well that we need to do. I also know what we need to work on and I will plow through my drill books and create some new drills to address our weaknesses.
“Also, due to all the injuries, we ended the season with 27 players on the roster, so we return 18 players for next season, all of whom were with the team since spring break.”