RANDOLPH, NJ- In her third season leading the Randolph girls lacrosse team, head coach Gina Annunziata feels like she is building bridges, and finally getting comfortable with her team.
“This is the first year I feel connected with the girls, because I've had the opportunity to coach most of them for three years now,” said Annunziata. What I've been preaching to the team is consistency; take it one game at a time. We look forward to starting off our season.”
The Lady Rams will benefit from having some strong, experienced leaders in each zone. Up front at the Attack position, senior Aly Stiles, who was selected as one of four captains, was described by Annunziata as “A team player who will help drive the offense.”
At the midfield spot, the team boasts two strong players who will play significant role in the teams’ success this season, particularly on the offensive side of the field. First is senior Natalie Panvini, who was second team All-Conference last year while picking up 19 goals, 5 assists, and being a force on ground balls. Annunziata calls her “Our work horse in the midfield.”
Second is last years’ breakout star, junior TT Naslonski, who burst onto the scene to lead the Lady Rams in scoring with a 68 goal, 93 point season.
“TT is our most dedicated player. She plays year round looking to always improve, and she sets the bar for the rest of her teammates,” said Annunziata.
Naslonski, who was first team All-Conference, honorable mention All-County, and second team All-Daily Record last season, has also been selected as a captain this season.
When asked what coach Annuziata has focused on this spring, Naslonski commented, “Our coaches preach communication on defense and positive attitudes throughout the whole team. Our team is built upon a family atmosphere which creates tremendous chemistry on as well as off of the field.”
In the defensive zone, the team will look for leadership from captain Melissa Downes, a senior who is the teams most experienced defender. Joining Downes is Roma Hladky, a sophomore who can play defense or midfield. Annuniziata said Hladky, “might be the most versatile player we have.”
The last line of defense, the goalie spot, will be manned by a returning starter, junior Sutton Todd. Coach Annunziata said, “Sutton is a great goalie who is our driving force on the field.”
To which Naslonski added, “Sutton is a huge part of our defense, and will have a major impact this season, especially in tight games.”
Todd earned first team All-Conference last season, and was selected as a team captain this year.
When asked about specific goals the seniors have for their final season in a Rams uniform, Annuniziata stated, “This season's seniors are dedicated to the success of the program and have drilled into their heads "get something on the banner" way before I got here. Our overall goal is to get something for them on the banner, such as a conference, county, and/or state championship.”
Key newcomers, along with coach Annunziata’s comments include: Julia Aronson (junior Attack - Hardworking)
Caitlyn Dempsey (Sophomore Defense - Great communication, aggressive, driven)
Kyra Horten (Freshman Defense - Great footwork, aggressive, coachable)
Sydney Jenkins (Sophomore Defense - Has stepped up big and looking to start for us on the defensive line.)
Annunziata has an optimistic outlook for the season, stating, “We are returning a lot of starters, which is a nice transition to start off the season. We will be looking at many of our returners to set the pace for our newcomers. I expect us to grow stronger each game as we get more connected as a team.”