BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - As newly-appointed Governor Livingston girls lacrosse head coach Chloe Griffin enters her first season at the helm, she has the luxury that many first-year coaches don’t experience: a stable group of returning (and talented veterans).

This year’s Highlanders team will be headlined by a senior class that helped propel the team to a 14-6 record last season and a conference title.

Even better for Griffin is that fact that the veteran cast, which is comprised mainly of seniors, has embraced her with open arms. And the willingness of those veterans to accept their new leader has trickled down to the rest of the team.

Sign Up for E-News

“My outlook for 2017 is very positive,” Griffin said. “Although it is only my first year with these athletes, the team is coming together quite nicely. I am lucky that we have eight returning seniors with one of those being our leading scorer, Lindsay Gerrato.”

To say that Gerrato has had a stellar career up to this point would be an understatement. The senior is coming off a season in which she captured All-Group 2 honors. But what’s more impressive is the fact that Gerrato, who plays Midfield, sits at an astounding 227 career goals and is almost certain to score her 300th career goal at some point this season.

 Gerrato, who has committed to play for Union College (NY), will serve as one of the team’s three captains this season along with fellow senior Meryl Schaffer and junior Bridget Colendenski.

Griffin lauded the three along with several other veterans on the team for making her transition much smoother.

“I have been lucky to have come into a program that has so many natural leaders,” Griffin said. “This season we have four freshmen on the team and the upperclassmen have done an amazing job helping them to adapt to varsity level play.”

“Our captains this year, who are Lindsay, Meryl, and Bridget, bring so much knowledge of the game to the other players. Not only can they help them better themselves as athletes, but they are each role models off the field.”

Not surprisingly, Griffin said the team’s biggest strength has been their work ethic and said the girls have done everything she’s asked and then some.

As for how the team’s lineup will look early in the season, seniors Riley Jankowski and Jenna Attanasio will hold it down at Attack.

The team’s defense will be comprised of Schaffer,  and fellow seniors Paige Collins, Catie Lazzaro, and Siena Kulesz.

Senior Liz Morabito returns as the team’s goalie while Gerrato will hold things down at Midfield. Gerrato will be joined at midfield by freshman Mackenzie Lloyd.

Griffin said Lloyd is one of three talented freshman that will take the field for Governor Livingston this season. The other two are Valerie Diamond, who will be in the rotation at defense, and Skylar Dowling, who will be in the mix at Attack. Dowling is the younger sister of Stephanie Dowling, who was the team’s second-leading scorer last season and has since graduated.

The Highlanders have the makings of a team that can make a state tournament run despite having to learn another coaching style. The team has adjusted well to new coaches in the past and it seems like that will continue this time around.

“While only three players graduated last year, there is a feeling of a clean slate,” Griffin said. “With a completely new coaching staff, this team will take it game-by-game in hopes of winning their second consecutive conference title.”

_________________________________________

Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Delicious Heights, a family restaurant with three locations; Berkeley Heights, Bedminster and Basking Ridge, where it is part of the Basking Ridge County Club operating a public restaurant with outdoor dining, and acting as the banquet caterer, boasting a facility with panoramic views of the sprawling golf course. Visit our website, www.deliciousheights.com for weekly specials including Happy Hour specials from 3-6pm and daily featured dinner and lunch specials. Delicious Heights....where our only limitations are yours!

Delicious Heights is located at 428 Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights. 908.464.3287; 285 Main Street in Bedminster. 908.234.1596; 185 Madisonville Road in Basking Ridge. 908.766.9499.