For the 19 girls on the Mahwah Varsity Lacrosse team, this season feels a bit different.
“We are a stronger, more experienced team,” Kristyn Tremblay, a senior captain, said. “Now that we have had more years playing at the varsity level, we have grown as a team.”
This program is in its fourth year with a full-fledged Varsity team. For each of the past two years, the team has been bumped up to play in higher leagues, and each year the team has made it to the semifinal round of its state tournament.
This weekend, the team will be playing in the county tournament, where it has earned the fourth seed. According to the captains, Ridgewood and IHA are the teams to beat. “I really think we could give the top two teams a run for their money,” Kayla Ciliento, another senior captain, said. “And, Mahwah is hosting the county finals [on May 12] this year, so if there is a year to make it to the finals, this is it.”
Coach Brian Girardi, who has been coaching the team since it started at the sub-varsity level in 2007, said the township’s lacrosse program is growing into a “really great thing. We have been around longer now, and I think we are preparing to go to the next step.”
Girardi credited Mahwah’s youth lacrosse program with “creating awesome players by the time they come to the varsity level. The directors of the youth program have done a great job of building this sport up in Mahwah. They give the girls opportunities to play a lot more lacrosse, sharpen their skills, and get better. It really has made my job 100 times easier.”
Girardi said the team “also works closely with the JV team, so the whole program works together for the benefit of all of its players.”
For the past two years, Mahwah has lost to the team from Chatham in the state semi-finals. “We have been playing against teams that have had lacrosse programs for much longer than we have. I like to think we can go further this year.”
According to coach and teammates, determination and mental preparedness set the Mahwah team apart.
“Our coach is really big on visualization,” player Karen Mennella, another senior captain, said. “We try to see ourselves playing well and winning before we actually do it.”
“We also have learned something and gotten better after every game we’ve played this season,” Ciliento added. “If we can keep doing that for the rest of the season, we’ll be an even better team.”
So far, the hard work and team tactics have paid off. The team has a 7-2 record.
“I think we have all of the right ingredients,” Tremblay said. “We are more athletic, and stronger now, but we have never lost our pride, good defense, and teamwork that have become trademarks of our team.”
The Mahwah varsity girls lacrosse team will face River Dell in a preliminary county qualifier game this Thursday.
The members of the 2012 varsity team are Christin Blake, Natalie Burke, Allie Garbely, Cara Batelli, Aly Burns, Christina Costantino, Patricia Horgan, Lily Hurley, Nicolette Kreshpane, Kiersten Spencer, Kristen Stuart, Christina Truglio, Noelle Woo, Kayla Ciliento, Paige Kelley, Karen Mennella, Nikki Salute, Phoebe Short, and Kristyn Tremblay. The team is coached by Brian Girardi, with assistant coaches Mike Tremblay and Kelly Santo Nacita.
The members of the 2012 junior varsity team, which is currently undefeated, are Caelie Batelli, Nicole Byrne, Casey Feeney, Ashley Frohnapfel, Taylor Jaffe, Fallon Kelley, Jenna Pierro, Allie Prestia, Brianna Spencer, Rachel Straining, Julia Anzano, Laurence Chanut, Casey Culloty, Gabby Gneiding, Amy Naslonski, Jamie Pacilio, Mikayla Pacilio, and Alison Surich. The team is coached by Kelly Santo Nacita.