Every year since finishing as the Division III runner-up in 2009, the Warwick Vets girls’ lacrosse team has had to replace a lot of key performers from the season before. But every year, players have risen to the occasion and have paved the way for solid seasons.
The situation will be even more pronounced this year as Vets fields a very young team. But as always, there are a lot of players ready to seize their moment.
“I graduated a lot of the varsity team from last year, so we have a lot of new kids,” said head coach Kathy Moan. “We’re going to be a very young team, but from what I’ve seen so far, they’re very enthusiastic and excited to be out there.”
The girls’ lacrosse program has been one of the school’s most consistent since it joined the interscholastic league in 2005, both in terms of success and numbers. The team had posted four consecutive winning seasons before just missing out last year with a 6-8 mark. Numbers have also remained high, and Vets has 43 girls on the roster this year.
“We’ve got reserves and then reserves for our reserves,” Moan joked.
From the big numbers this year, Moan will try to mold another solid squad. It starts with those players who are ready to step into bigger roles.
“It’s kind of like a new beginning, a clean slate,” Moan said. “The young girls are excited to be out there, and the seniors and returning players are eager to teach them and encourage them. There’s a nice vibe with the team right now.”
Vets will be led by senior captains Christine Amaral, Tara Hersey and Liz Paras. Amaral was the backup to standout goalie Ashley Aucoin last year and is expected to start in net this year. Paras and Hersey are among the top returning field players.
“The captains are very mature, and they’re good leaders,” Moan said. “With them leading, I think it’s going to be a good growing year for us. I’m encouraged.”
In addition to the captains, several other players are stepping up. Senior Jenna Cote will likely join Hersey on attack, while sophomores Casey Bennett, Emily Almonte and Lauren Almonte are in line to anchor the midfield.
“They all have one more year under their belt, and they’re more confident,” Moan said. “I think they’re going to step up their games.”
Junior Bianca Capelli is the only player with significant experience on defense, and she’ll anchor that unit.
“She’s going to play a big role as far as bringing the understanding of the game to the younger girls and being the voice back there,” Moan said.
The rest of the lineup will be in flux, with a lot of players coming up from the JV team and several coming out for the first time. But already, Moan has seen improvement.
“From what I’ve seen, they’re all getting better every day,” Moan said. “I keep telling them that we just want to improve as the season goes on. I think it’s going to be a good season.”
The ’Canes would like to find themselves in the playoffs when all is said and done. There will probably be some growing pains along the way, but if history is any indication, the ’Canes will be ready to compete.
“Our ultimate goal is to grab a spot in the playoffs,” Moan said. “A couple of teams are really tough in our division, so I have realistic expectations. We know we’re not going to win every game. But as long as we see improvement, we’ll be happy.”
Vets is scheduled to open the season on Wednesday with a 4 p.m. home game against Westerly.