BASKING RIDGE, NJ - A new head coach, but a majority of the same players who achieved a winning season a year ago, have the Ridge girls lacrosse program facing the 2018 season with plenty of optimism.

First-year coach MJ Hollingsworth, an accomplished lacrosse player in his own right who played at Rutgers University, has 16 returning letterwinners to build upon last season's 12-9 success.

Senior Mena Loescher is back after a remarkable 2017 season in which she scored 65 goals and assisted on 45 others. Georgia Pesot tied for the team lead with 45 assists and scored 22 goals herself.

Sign Up for E-News

Those two offensive sparkplugs will be joined in the Red Devils' attack by Emma Wightman (26 goals and 13 assists) and Grace Kirkwood (27 goals, eight assists).

Other players figuring to make an offensive impact for Ridge include Claire Keller, Annabelle Pesarchick and Bailey Aaron.

"(We) have a core group of seniors that are excited to lead the team and take their games to the next level," Hollingsworth said. "I feel that they have a genuine thirst to learn and improve."

Junior Abby Bosland had the most ground balls (21) among returning Red Devils. Caroline Alexis, Sophia Ko and Megan McCrea will help out at the defensive end. Goalkeeping responsibilities will be divided between Emily Schmitt and Katie Scherzer.

Loescher, Keller and Scherzer serve as the co-captains.

"Day by day we will improve," Hollingsworth said. "It will be fun to see where that takes us."

If the snow is gone by then, Ridge will open its season Wednesday, March 28 against Mount St. Mary in Watchung. The home opener is scheduled for Thursday, April 5 against Moorestown.