Warriors return many veterans, seek a state tournament berth
By DAN BYRNE
WAKEFIELD — One year ago, the Wakefield Memorial High School varsity girls’ lacrosse team had a roller coaster of a season.
It started poorly for the Warriors as they lost their first nine games. But the team turned things around and, had a few things gone differently, the team could have reached the post season. Wakefield ended the 2014 season with a 5-13 record.
This spring the team is back together and with another offseason of preparation under their belt, the Warriors will be ready to go when the season kicks off Wednesday, April 1 against Woburn.
Head coach Cara Luca returns to the sidelines for her seventh year to lead the Warriors once again this spring. Along with her assistants, former WMHS girls’ lacrosse standout Alyssa Marchant and WMHS head girls’ basketball coach and JV girls’ lacrosse coach Meg O’Connell, Wakefield will be seeking to improve on last year’s record.
Coach Luca gave her coaching staff credit for their hard work and dedication in building up the girls’ lacrosse program and looked toward what she has coming through the ranks.
Luca said, “Meghan O’Connell is in her third year with the program as the JV coach and she will be carrying 20 players. We do not have a freshman team this season but that is something we need to look into for the future. Debbie Tremblay, who is the youth coach, has done a tremendous job and numbers are increasing at the freshmen level. We have 14 freshmen on JV this year.”
“We also have Alyssa Marchant on the coaching staff. This is Alyssa’s second year helping out the program. She will be assisting both me and Coach O’Connell.”
Coach Luca hopes the team this year will be more competitive than ever.
Recently she spoke about this team saying, “Expectations are set higher than before. With nine returning varsity players and the amount of potential each athlete brings, we should be successful. The girls need to continue to work hard in each aspect of the game. Our ultimate goal is to make it to the tournament. We expect the athletes to work hard every day, stay positive and communicate with each other.
“This year’s team has a strong bond and we have seen a lot of good things in the preseason. We want to keep it that way all season long,” added Luca.
On the current makeup of the roster at the start of the season she said, “This year’s team has nine returning varsity players. We have a total of 17 on varsity right now, two seniors, 11 juniors, three sophomores and one freshman.”
The coach went through the lineup position by position and explained where she saw the strength and weaknesses of the early makeup of the roster, noting that this year’s team has worked together in the offseason unlike any team before.
“Gabby Raffaele and Gianna Tringale are the two captains for this year’s team,” the coach said. “Both have shown great leadership in the offseason getting the girls to work hard and prepare for the upcoming season. Both captains share the same expectations as the coaching staff. They want the team to be successful and look toward the tournament. Hard work and dedication along with their leadership will get us there.”
As for the goalie position, there are two candidates.
“The goalie position will be split by Bianca Passacantilli and Mikayla White who are both juniors,” Luca said.
The three defenders she lists are all juniors returning from a year ago, “My defense is Isa Cusack, Meg Kerrigan and Cathy Francis.”
Up front, center Kelsey Czarnota returns.
“(The) Starting center is sophomore Kelsey Czarnota who is also a returning varsity player,” said Luca.
In the midfield is where the team is going through some roster turnover from a year ago as Coach Luca commented on the transition, “Our midfield is all new players. We graduated two fantastic midfield players; Haley and Raquel Riley who left a huge hole to fill.
“We are still working on to see who fits best in the midfield,” continued the coach, “Right now we have senior Gianna Tringale, junior Jessica Vinciguerra, Kaitlyn Foley and sophomores Emily Ryan and Brianna Smith playing midfield.”
“Foley, Ryan and Smith are new to the varsity squad this year.”
Finally the coach outlined the players up front.
“On attack, we have senior Gabby Raffaele, juniors Julianne Bourque, Erin Murphy, Erin Lucey, Maddie Collins and freshman Julia Brown.”
The coach then spoke about what makes this team different from previous seasons.
“This year’s team is a lot different than past years. A majority of the girls worked together in the offseason at an indoor facility,” she said. “When the season started you could tell the special bond that was created. I haven’t seen a team click like this in a long time. There is much more confidence in players this year than last year.
“In years past, we have always tried to have a passing game. This year we feel that it may be one of our strengths,” added Luca. “The one thing that we hope to accomplish is a good transition both offensively and defensively and we are confident that it will happen.”
With the foundation for success started last season and built upon during the offseason, Coach Luca hopes to be leading her squad to the tournament come late May or early June.
The first game of the season for the Warriors is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, April 1 at 4 p.m. at Landrigan Field against Woburn.