MAHOPAC, N.Y.— With 11 seniors returning from a team that finished 14-5, won a league title and reached the Section 1 Class A semifinals last year, the Mahopac girls lacrosse team is confident heading into the new campaign.
The team is led by a talented midfield trio of captains in seniors Briana Corace and Kristen Maxwell, along with junior Morgan Kirby.
“The strength of our team is our experience and our senior leadership,” Mahopac coach Jim Lieto said. “We return 18 girls who were members of the varsity team this year. They all know our system and have worked hard all off season to be ready to go this season. The hope is that they will all be varsity ready and we will get a jump start on the season.”
The Mercy-bound Corace is a big scoring threat from her midfield position as she tallied 45 goals last year and was all-section.
Sophomore Katie McDonough also returns at midfield after a solid season with six goals and 10 assists as a freshman.
Maxwell missed the entire 2016 campaign due to injury and is committed to the University of Delaware. “She will step in and contribute right away,” Lieto said.
Junior Natalie Scanlon will fill out the starting midfield. Lieto said she’ll be a “strong presence on the defensive end with her speed and height.” Junior Francesca Mangione is another midfielder who Lieto expects to make an impact.
Lieto expects big things out of his attack with seniors Diana Good (24 goals, 22 assists) and Gabby Light (31 goals, 11 assists) returning. Junior Caroline Raymond, who is committed to West Point, also returns.
“Marella Verde and Hope Mantovi look to spend more time on the field this year as well,” Lieto said.
The defense has some holes to fill after the graduation of Katie Semenetz and Alyssa Kirby. Senior captain Kim Schiera also suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the basketball season and will miss her final campaign as an Indian.
“Jen Laga is the only defender who returns with significant experience,” Lieto said. “Ally Reilly, Nicole Demealo, Siobhan Hynes and Hannah Lieto will all look to fill the holes on the back-end.”
Senior Emily O’Shea returns in net for her second season as the starter and will be challenged by sophomore Jordan Barbagallo for minutes.
The Indians are hoping to get back to the Class A sectional championship game, which they reached two seasons ago.
“The team goals are to compete for the sectional championship,” Lieto said. “Five girls on the team are all that is left of the team that made the sectional championship two years ago and as seniors they are looking to lead the team back to the championship.”
With the weather, Lieto said that the Indians have had a difficult time getting on the field but he knows his Indians will be ready to roll for their first game when they host Kingston on March 29 at 4:30 p.m. The Indians will then host Scarsdale two days later at the same time.
“The team worked hard all off season competing in tournaments and working out in the gym,” Lieto said. “Although we have had limited field time the first two weeks, practices have been focused and intense. With 18 returning players and eight newcomers, we have one of the largest teams we have ever had at Mahopac, but all the girls are really getting along and have the same goal of competing at a high level. We have won the league championship the last two years and we are setting our sites on repeating that feat again this year.”