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Reporter-Area Girls Lax Preview: Souderton, CB West look for crown

A season after sharing the Suburban One League National Conference’s title, both the Central Bucks West and Souderton girls lacrosse teams have hopes of once again being at the top of the conference’s standings in 2016. Although this time with a little less company.

Souderton has a new coach in Lindsay Walbrandt, who had a standout career with the Indians before playing in college at Lock Haven. Big Red graduated a talented senior group that helped the team advanced to the District 1 quarterfinals last season, but there will still be plenty of quality on the field in Franconia, including senior midfielder Krista Schneider and sophomore attacker Carlie Doughty.

“Our goals are to maintain the winning conference seasons of the past few years while developing our younger players to continue with many more successful years of the program,” Walbrandt said. “We hope to use our cohesive and aggressive defensive unit to control possession and translate that into goals on the attacking end of the field with a wide range of players who are capable of putting points on the board.”

Central Bucks West is coming off a year where it reached the second round of districts and returns five players that earned SOL National honors headed by junior first-team attacker Bryn Boylan.

North Penn under second-year coach Heather Mellow will look to join the Indians and Bucks in the title chase returning experience seniors Chloe Novak at midfield and Michelle Dyck in goal. Sophomore Grace Loughery — an all-conference fist-team pick as a freshman — and Pennridge try to continue their push towards the upper half of the SOL National.

In the Suburban One League American, Wissahickon had an unblemished mark in claiming the conference title in 2015, but Hatboro-Horsham — which made the district second round — Abington and Upper Dublin are all aiming to knock the Trojans out of the top spot.

Lansdale Catholic is looking for more in Year 2 under coach Alexis Setley. The Crusaders took third in the Philadelphia Catholic League and reached the league semifinals, where it was bounced by Archbishop Wood. Junior Jacqui Jester — a Rutgers commit — will continue to be LC’s top scoring threat, having already collecting over 100 goals in her career.

Methacton made the PAC-10 final in 2015 and with a pair of Division I commits in attack — Sara Hughes (St. Joseph’s) and Deb Peifer (Manhattan) the Warriors are primed for another run at the conference’s crown.

“Overall this season is exciting. I have a great group of girls who are passionate about the game and the competition,” Methacton coach Laurie Merkle said. “I think as we begin to gel as a team we should have a very competitive season. Looking to go further down the road in postseason with this group.”

Central Bucks West

Central Bucks West's Finley Ueland ,2, works around Souderton defender Olivia Toler ,8, during second half action of their contest at Souderton Area High School on May 5,2015. (DFM file photo)

Central Bucks West’s Finley Ueland ,2, works around Souderton defender Olivia Toler ,8, during second half action of their contest at Souderton Area High School on May 5,2015. (DFM file photo)

Coach: Tara Schmucker (seventh season).
League: Suburban One League National Conference.
Last Season: 14-6 (8-1 conference), lost to Harriton in District 1 second round.
Key Losses: Jacq Fitzgerald (Amherst), Meghan Tillger (Kean), Elle Ueland (Rollins), Paige Savard.
Top Returners: Bryn Boylan (Jr., A), Katie Holt (Sr., D), Meghan Darcy (Jr., D), Molly Naylor (Sr., GK), Lauren Devlin (Jr., GK), Maddie Maio (So., MF), Finley Ueland (So., A).
Outlook: The Bucks shared the National crown with Souderton in 2015 and should again being in the title mix returning five all-conference selections, including first-team attacker Bryn Boylan. Schmucker says West is focusing on playing a complete 50 minute game after having programs giving up leads last year.

“We also lost some key starters and are younger, but our biggest strength and philosophy is that we are not one-dimensional and everyone on our team contributes; this year is no different,” Schmucker said. “So we plan to be competitive and fight in every game.”

Gwynedd Mercy

Coach: Deborah Lawlor (sixth season).
League: Catholic Academies
Last Season: 11-8, 10-3 league, lost to Bishop Shanahan in District 1 first round.Key Losses: Kelly Pizzirani (Fairfield), Alex Paul (Quinnipiac), Ashely Stefanowicz (Rollins), Sarah Morris, Kelly Szamboti, Casey Flanigan, Lauren Dempsey.
Top Returners: Maddie Meagher (Sr., MF), Hailey Durkin (Jr., MF), Gabby Tanner (Jr., GK), Danielle Senour (Jr., D), Bridget Beck (Jr., A), Paige Angelus (Jr., D), Kendall Seifert (Jr., A/MF).
Outlook: GMA looks to make another run to districts, with All-Catholic Academies selections Meagher and Tanner back from last season’s Monarch side to finished third in the league.

“The squad is a hardworking, service oriented group whose passion is to compete with tenacity and with poise,” Lawlor said. “We are really looking for a fun action packed season. This year leaders are emerging and are gearing up to assist our team in the pursuit to an excellent finish.”

Lansdale Catholic's Sarah Opdyke ,3, puts a shot on Bishop McDevitt goalie Sunny Rooney ,18, during second half action of their contest at Lansdale Catholic High School on Thursday, April15, 2015. (DFM file photo)

Lansdale Catholic’s Sarah Opdyke ,3, puts a shot on Bishop McDevitt goalie Sunny Rooney ,18, during second half action of their contest at Lansdale Catholic High School on Thursday, April15, 2015. (DFM file photo)

Lansdale Catholic

Coach: Alexis Setley (second season).
League: Philadelphia Catholic League (District 12).
Top Returners: Jules LaSanta (Sr., MF), Mary Cleary (Sr., D), Sarah Opdyke (Sr., MF), Morgan Keenan (Sr., A). Jacqui Jester (Jr.), Rose Stella, Mary Kate Carney.
Outlook: The Crusaders are looking to build off last season when they finished third in the PCL and reached the league’s semifinals.
Jester, a Rutgers commit, is a threat to score anytime she has the ball, having already racked up over 100 goals in her career. LaSanta was an All-PCL second team pick with Cleary and Stella both earned honorable mention.

“My expectations are that the girls have a successful season like last year!” Setley said. “I want to see them be just as good if not better this season.”

Methacton

Coach: Laurie Markle (10th season).
League: Pioneer Athletic Conference.
Last Season: 15-6 (10-3 conference), lot to Owen J. Roberts in PAC-10 final, lost to Hatboro-Horsham in District 1 first round.
Key Losses: Sam Rothman, Casey Reid, Jess McNally.
Top Returners: Deb Peifer (Sr., A), Sara Hughes (Sr., A), Jackie Cerchio (Jr., MF), Dara Lucchesi (MF), Kate Markle (D), Julia Cook (D).
Others to Watch: Julie Byrne, Franki Lucchessi, Addie Frey (GK), Sara Sterchak (GK).
Outlook: The Warriors aims to making a deeper postseason run after being upset by Hatboro-Horsham in the district opener last season. The attack boasts a pair of Division I commits – Sara Hughes (St. Joseph’s) and Deb Peifer (Manhattan). Hughes scored 76 goals and handed out 22 assists last season.
In the midfield, junior Cerchio had 47 goals and 25 assists while Dara Lucchesi finished with 46 goals. A veteran defense will play in front of netminders Frey and Sterchak.

North Penn’s Jenn DeLongis gets pressure from Spring-Ford’s Shannon Reape, left, and Brianna Cirino during their game on March 23, 2015. (DFM file photo)

North Penn’s Jenn DeLongis gets pressure from Spring-Ford’s Shannon Reape, left, and Brianna Cirino during their game on March 23, 2015. (DFM file photo)

North Penn

Coach: Heather Mellow (second season).
League: SOL National Conference.
Last Season: 10-9 (6-3 conference), lost to Garnet Valley in District 1 first round.
Key Losses: Emily Schulze (La Salle), Sydney Lear (Queens University of Charlotte), Maddy McClure.
Top Returners: Michelle Dyck (Sr., GK), Chloe Novak (Sr., MF), Emily Suzuki (Sr., MF), Jenn DeLongis (Sr., A), Kaitlyn Phifer (Jr., MF).
Others to Watch: Bri O’Donnell (So., A), Julia Keffer (Jr., A), Victoria Brauenle (Jr., A), Mikayla Barrow (So., D), Kaitlyn Varilla (Jr., D).
Outlook: Mellow likes the balance of this season’s team, which returns a pair of All-SOL National second team picks in goaltender Dyck and midfielder Novak.

“We are looking at our core seniors to lead this team this year,” Mellow said. “With strong leaders and a well-balanced team we are looking to improve upon our record from last year.”

Pennridge

Coach: Karen Schnurr (second season).
League: SOL National Conference.
Last Season: 10-8 (4-5 conference)
Key Losses: Jess Csaszar.
Top Returners: Jennifer Rodzewich (Jr., MF), Grace Loughery (So., MF) Maddie Dachowski (Jr., A), Emily Price (Jr., A), Leah Hilton (Sr., D), Kelly McNally (Sr., D).
Others to Watch: Casey Hefner (So., MF), Alexa Machado (Fr., GK), Hannah Cressman (Fr., D), Caitlyn Amsden (Fr., D).
Outlook: The Rams return just one starter back on attack, but Pennridge still group at that position and midfield that can put goals on the board. Loughery was the lone freshman on last season’s All-SOL National first team.

“This season we are excited to keep improving and be able to compete with the powerhouses around us,” Schnurr said. “This team is focused and dedicated and has been ready to go since last season.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh

Coach: Ellen K. Reilly (26th season).
League: SOL American Conference.
Last Season: 8-10 (4-5 conference).
Key Losses: Janell Lewis (Western New England), Kirsten Monte (Wagner), Rita Trainer (Chesnut Hill College), Morgan Brzozowski, Steph Fazio, Emily Miller, Cassie Ward.
Top Returners: Maddie Berman (Sr., A), Monica Dresnin (Sr., A), Aurora Mills (Sr., MF), Cate Golden (Jr., D), Sam Ward (Jr., D), Sara Tenaglio (Jr., D), Victoria Betterly (So., A), Ali Diamond (So., A), Sophia Kolkka (So., MF), Sarah Putsch (So., MF).
Outlook: The Colonials had a strong finish to 2015, winning four of their last five and return a talented sophomore duo in Kolkka (second team all-conference) and Diamond (third team). Defender Golden was all an All-SOL National honorable mention last year.

“We have a group ofyoung ladies who understand the game, are working hard and enjoy playing the game,” Reilly said. “I look forward to watching their progression having last

year’s experience behind them. If we play together as a team I believe we could have a successful season.”

Souderton’s Juliana Ofalt fires on Downingtown West goalkeeper Claire Foster during their District 1 second round game on May 14, 2015. (DFM file photo)

Souderton’s Juliana Ofalt fires on Downingtown West goalkeeper Claire Foster during their District 1 second round game on May 14, 2015. (DFM file photo)

Souderton

Coach: Lindsay Walbrandt (first season).
League: SOL National Conference
Last Season: 17-5 (8-1 conference), lost to Springfield (Delco) in District 1 fifth place semifinals.
Key Losses: Natalie Bulgier (Georgetown), Amber Lambeth (Temple), Kelly Williams, Kyra Shank (Shippensburg), Brittany Roynan (Lock Haven).
Top Returners: Julianna Ofalt (Sr., D), Krista Schneider (Sr., MF), Leah Goodwin (Sr., A), Carlie Doughty (So., MF).
Others to Watch: Sarah Goodwin (So., MF), Maddie Knight (Jr., A), Riley McGowan (Fr., A), Katie Halteman (Sr., MF), Sophia Lynch (So., D).
Outlook: Former Indians standout Walbrandt takes over the program, which has been on top of the SOL National the past two seasons. And with a speedy midfield and several talented shooters, Big Red should stay among the best in the conference. Souderton has two new goalies – senior Hannah Schmidt and freshman Lauren Scott – while five seniors return, including Schneider, a All-SOL National second-team midfielder as a junior.

“Our goals are to maintain the winning conference seasons of the past few years while developing our younger players to continue with many more successful years of the program,” Walbrandt said. “We hope to use our cohesive and aggressive defensive unit to control possession and translate that into goals on the attacking end of the field with a wide range of players who are capable of putting points on the board.”

Upper Merion

Coach: Angie Yanocha (11th season).
League: SOL American Conference.
Last Season: 7-11 (4-5 conference)
Top Returners: Anna Davis (Sr., MF), Haley O’Malley (Sr., A), Lizzy Goernemann (Sr., D), Jordan Cabahug-Almonte (Sr., GK), Francesca Lindelow (Jr., A), Allison Shuster (Jr., A), Quinn O’Malley (So., MF), Marion Fortino (Sr., D), Karli Friends (So., D), Gabrielle Struckus (Jr., D).
Others to Watch: Molly Weygand (Fr., MF), Riley O’Malley (Fr., A).
Outlook: The Vikings coming into 2016 with plenty of experience, having just two players graduate from last season’s squad. Davis is back in the midfield after earning all-conference second team honors, while Haley O’Malley was a third team pick at attack.

“The girls have really been working hard to push each other at practices,” Yanocha said. “As long as we play together as a team and continue to strengthen a few of our weaknesses, our goal of making districts this year should be attainable.”

Upper Moreland

Coach: Pam Remmey (third season).
League: SOL American Conference.
Last Season: 10-7 (4-5 conference).
Key Losses: Veronica Baez, Melissa Felcetti.
Top Returners: Delaney Smith (Sr., MF), Maura O’Leary (Sr., MF), Emily Zanine (Sr., D), Melanie Wittick (Jr., D), Madison Pisut (Jr., D), Sydney Bachmayer (Jr., A), Allison Felicetti (Jr., A), Jess Flanagan (So., A).
Others to Watch: Cait Corr (So., D), MG Wood (So., D), Emma Hood (Jr., GK), Cheyanne Grumm (So., GK).
Outlook: The Golden Bears bring a strong core back from last season’s 10-win side led by senior midfielders Smith – an All-SOL American first-team selection – and O’Leary. Wittick, an all-conference honorable mention, anchors the defense with Hood and Grumm competing for the goalie spot. Bachmayer and Felicetti are capable scorers but Remmey is looking for other players to step up in that role.

“We are working to be more competitive in the league,” Remmey said. “Our non league schedule is a mix of teams that we can hopefully compete with if we keep working hard.”

 

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