Middletown Girls Lacrosse Eyeing Return Trip to MPSSAA Final Four
2015 was a banner season for Middletown girls lacrosse. The Knights reached the final four of the MPSSAA 3A/2A state tournament, which is the deepest run Middletown has ever enjoyed in girls lacrosse.
Fast-forward to this season and the Knights have their eyes set on making another trip to the final four. The team graduated 10 seniors from last year's team, six of whom were starters.
That hasn't stopped Middletown from having a strong first half of the season, currently holding a record of 6-1. The team beat South River, a traditional power, to open the season and yesterday the Knights topped Brunswick 14-11 to earn their third straight win.
"The experience that the team had when they went to the final four at states was memorable, and the girls on this year's team are eager to fulfill that goal again," head coach Gretchen Martin said.
This year, the Knights have already accomplished something last year's team couldn't by getting off to a fast start. Middletown may have finished strong last year, but the Knights stumbled out of the blocks early, dropping its first four games.
"It really makes a difference when comparing last year's start having four losses to start the season and this year we are now 6-1," Martin said. "Starting the season on a winning note gives the team confidence to go forward with the season."
One big key for the team's fast start its the familiarity many of the players have with each other. Martin says that a lot of her players grew up playing together on various youth teams, meaning the team had built in chemistry from the outset of the season.
While Middletown's defense has been excellent and led by the duo of Emily Delauter and Katie Stottlemyer, the team's offense has really stood out. Middletown has at least 10 goals in five of its games, and in each of its last three.
The offensive output has been spread around, but Rilee Bradshaw leads the team with 18 goals, while also adding seven assists. Rachel Walchuck isn't far behind her with 16 goals and four assists. Kaitlyn Ridenour and Kristyn Staley each have 12 goals. Ridenour has posted a team-high 11 assists, while Staley has chipped in eight.
Megan Cleverly (10 goals, eight assists) and Andrea Kundrick (seven goals, six assists) rounds out the team's main attacking threats.
"The team has been working hard in practice, sometimes practicing six days a week and taking the opportunity to watch film," Martin said. "This, along with their history of playing together, has allowed our offense to be explosive at times."
Looking ahead, Middletown still has a difficult schedule before getting to the postseason. The next three games look particularly tricky, as the Knights will have travel to Oakdale, then host both Walkersville and Tuscarora. All three teams have gotten off to winning starts just like the Knights, so it should be a good indicator of just how successful Middletown can be this season.
If those results go the way Middletown hopes they do, the team will be put in a great position to make another push in the playoffs.
"I'm excited about the 2016 season because we have a group of girls that have been playing lacrosse together since they were in the youth leagues, and want to make the best of the high school lacrosse experience," Martin said. "They are a determined group of girls."
|April 13th, 2016||By: Wick Eisenberg|