By BRIAN CUNNIFF
A few of the area’s high school lacrosse teams seemed to be set up to enjoy great success in 2020. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the entire season was canceled.
With many of the key players from those projected teams having graduated, this spring will have a much different look. But more than anything, the coaches and players are simply happy to have games.
The following is a look at each of the area’s boys and girls lacrosse teams:
LOWER CAPE MAY GIRLS
Lower Cape May brings back five players who were major contributors as freshmen when the Lady Tigers finished an excellent 16-5 in 2019.
Those current juniors include MF Sabrina Faulkner (56 goals, 30 assists, 43 draw controls in ’19), MF Maddie Schiffbauer (30 goals in ’19), MF Maggie Boyle (18 goals in ’19), A Julia Gibson (22 goals in ’19) and D Jenna O’Neill (30 groundballs).
Some newcomers are expected to provide depth. They include junior Lindsay Holden (D) and freshmen Siana King (MF), Ryan Salinsky (MF), Tessa Hueber (A) and Mohaganey Kelly (D).
JoAnn McLaughlin enters her fifth season as the program’s head coach. She’s assisted by Ane Bracken, Matt Danze and Devon Blackley.
Lower Cape May is currently in a pause due to COVID-19 concerns. The team is set to open its season Monday. April 26, at Egg Harbor Township.
MIDDLE TOWNSHIP GIRLS
Middle Township may have been a legitimate state title contender had lacrosse season gone forth last spring.
Many of the top players from that squad, including program all-time greats Kira Sides (now at LaSalle) and Maddie Barber (now at Temple), have graduated.
The Lady Panthers will feature a rather young team this spring, with only three seniors on the roster, but still expect to be rather competitive.
There are six returnees with varsity experience, led by standout three-sport athlete Kate Herlihy (MF), who posted 15 goals and 13 assists in 2019. Other returning varsity letter winners include senior Ana Bond (A) and juniors Brianna Robinson (A), Mia Slick (GK), Kylie Graham (D) and Jada Nagle (A).
Other returnees who were in the program two seasons ago include senior Alison Johnson (D) and juniors Savannah Hulme (D), Elaina Nelso, (D), Abby Ridgway (D), Morgan Delaney (D) and Micah Dempsey (A).
New players expected to make an impact include sophomores Eliza Billingham (MF), Maddyn McAnaney (MF), Holly Mader (A), Hannah Price (A) and Hailie Seitz (A) and freshmen Abbie Teefy (A), Giavana Famiano (D) and Brooke Nabb (D).
“Even though we are young, this is not a rebuilding year,” said fourth-year head coach Tina Prickett. “We have three seniors who deserve success and 13 2020 alumni we are playing for. We are here to compete.”
Prickett is assisted by Heather Heun.
Middle was scheduled to open the season Monday at Mainland but the contest was pushed to Tuesday due to rain.
LOWER CAPE MAY BOYS
With lower numbers and an inexperienced squad, Lower Cape May appears headed for a rebuilding season.
The Tigers lost more than 10 players from their 2020 team that never took the field due to the health crisis.
But there is a mix of some experienced players with a handful of promising newcomers.
The Tigers (11-6 in 2019) will be led by senior Collin Hassay (MF) and junior MF Mikey Castellano. Others with experience include juniors Matt Brown (A), Brody Saltzman (D) and Wayne Reichle (D).
The top newcomers include sophomore Taj Turner (A) and freshmen Macky Bonner (MF) and Oguer Nunez (LSMF).
Lower Cape May, led by sixth-year head coach Chris Boyle, lost 17-1 to Ocean City in its opener on Monday.
MIDDLE TOWNSHIP BOYS
Middle Township’s program has struggled in recent seasons but could be on the right track in attempting to rebuild with a younger roster this spring.
Colin Krauss takes over as head coach. He was hired for 2020 but the season was canceled due to the health pandemic, so this will be the first time he gets his players on the field for interscholastic competition.
Middle’s experienced players include seniors Brandon Rosensteel (GK), Travis McCray (MF) and Paul Ogden (MF) and juniors Brett Nabb (MF), Matt Frame (A) and Mitch Nichols (D). The top newcomer is freshman Danny Brady (D).
While most of the team’s offensive attack players are returning, most of the defenders will be inexperienced.
“The team is excited to be back and playing,” Krauss said. “The vibe is that they lost a season and we want to make the most of this one. They have been working hard and putting in extra time to get better. With a new coaching staff, we are all looking forward to a fresh start this season.”
Krauss is assisted by Fred Nabb.
Middle was scheduled to open the season Tuesday at home against Mainland after Monday’s game with the Mustangs was rained out.