As it chases its first winning season in Division II, the Warwick Vets girls’ lacrosse team will still face an uphill battle. But if there’s a Hurricanes team that can start to turn things around, this one might be it.
After a winless season in 2012, most of the players who sparked a two-win improvement last year are back in the fold and hoping for a bigger leap. Vets lost only three players to graduation and returns five All-Division performers.
“I have most of my varsity players returning and most of them are seniors,” said head coach Kathy Palazzo. “The seniors have been with me for four years and they’re a great group of girls. They’ve worked very hard. It’s their senior year, and I just want them to go out and have a good season.”
The ’Canes are five years removed from a Division III runner-up finish in 2009. They went 8-3 the next year but then were bumped to Division II. It was a tough challenge to begin with but the league has gotten even tougher in recent years.
Vets took its lumps as a young squad in 2012 but showed improvement last year. The slate remains difficult this season, but same core is ready to give it one final go this season.
“It’s a tough division,” Palazzo said. “About half the teams, we can compete very well with. The other half, it’s tough. We’ve got another year under our belts, so hopefully we can compete a little more this season.”
Experience should help. The ’Canes have seniors all over the field, and many of them were part of the Vets soccer team that had a resurgent season in the fall, so they’re no strangers to a turnaround.
Senior attack wing Jenna Fontaine and senior goalie Katelen Pick were both first-team All-Division picks last season. Seniors Lauren Almonte, Ricki Beaufort and Casey Bennett were second-team selections.
All are back in the fold and surrounded by plenty more experience.
On defense, returning starter Alyssa McCracken will join Beaufort and Almonte to give the ’Canes a solid back line.
“They’re really good at communicating with each other,” Palazzo said. “We’ll be working in some newer kids, too, and I am confident they can lead them.”
Pick returns in goal. Also a multi-year starter as the soccer goalie, Pick was in her first season of varsity lacrosse last year but more than held her own.
“She did a great job,” Palazzo said. “It takes something special to be a goalie. You’ve got to be athletic and also a little crazy to stand in there. She’s up for it.”
Junior Savannah Hersey, another returning starter, is back at a defensive wing position, with junior Sloan Kinney making the jump from the JV team to other spot. Senior Emily Almonte – a top scoring threat last year – will return to the center position.
Bennett and Fontaine are the attack wings, while senior Nicole Luiz returns to the front line. The other two spots up front are open, the only positions on the field where Vets lacks experience.
“We’ve got two vacancies at attack,” Palazzo said. “We’re trying out a lot of different girls. It’s really up for grabs right now.”
Vets has other players competing for time in various spots, but however the lineups shake out, the focus will be the same. The ’Canes want to improve, keep their heads up and really get their footing in their difficult league.
“They just have to work together and not get down, no matter how the game goes,” Palazzo said. “Hopefully they can put it all together and have a fun season.”
Vets is scheduled to open the season today with a 4:30 p.m., game at East Providence.