Usually, great seasons evolve over time. Teams work to learn the necessary skills, build individual confidence and then meld together in a harmonious flow. This year's Council Rock North girls lacrosse team appears to have accelerated the process.
Captain and veteran all-league performer, Laura Kwasnoski admits the early going was a bit uneven for coach Krista Dayton-Vantresca's squad.
"We had a couple bumps along the way at the beginning. Our other captain, Taylor Campbell, got sick and we had a couple of injuries. It was hard in the beginning because we had a lot of new players. But everyone was always enthusiastic and energetic.'
The spirit and drive helped the Indians treat early losses to Downingtown East, Downingtown West, Abington, and Wissahickon as learning experiences. When actual league play started in the newly aligned Suburban One League (SOL) National Division North was ready.
The Indians' first division opponent, Pennsbury, provided a real challenge. The Falcons won the division crown last year with a 15-4 record. Two of those victories came over North by scores of 8-4 and 13-7.
This year, the Indians, determined not to have history repeat, fought the Falcons to a tie after regulation play ended. Led by hat tricks from Laura Kwasnoski and Katy Lehman, they went on to take the 9-8 overtime thriller.
Laura saw the victory as a real confidence booster. "Beating Pennsbury was really a huge step for us. They won it last year and they were projected to lead again. Being able to beat a top team was great for us.'
The Indians next league foe, Central Bucks East, would test this newly established team assurance. The Patriots sported an impressive 5-1 record and certainly appeared to be one of the top division contenders.
Such lofty credentials only fueled the Rock's competitive fires. "We came into the game knowing it was a league game so we wanted to give one hundred and twenty percent. We knew it was really bad weather and people would make mistakes. We just wanted to play our best. We've been slowly progressing. Our first games weren't the best but we're starting to mesh as a team. Even though we had two defenders out against East, our offense really stepped up.'
The offensive explosion started with the opening draw. Sophomore Devon Mela gathered in the ball and scored with only 14 seconds gone in the game. Rock would extend that lead to 6-0 by halftime. In all, North would wind up taking 13 shots at the enemy goal to only two for East in the half.
Dominating the draws certainly proved critical to the Rock's total offensive assault. The Indians won all but two draws, many of them coming thanks to Laura's veteran savvy and competitive drive.
"Everyone has their own style. The key is really boxing other people out and getting in there and getting the ball. I like to be aggressive and get the other girl out of the way. It's really not a matter of how tall you are but how skillful you are.'
Laura's performance earned praise from CB East coach Kelly White who was quoted as saying, "I had watched number 22 and she's a fantastic, athletic girl.'
Laura is also a selfless, team-oriented player. In describing her role as center, she says, "I play what is needed of me. As of now, I play center. My present position is a mixture of offense and defense. When they need people on offense to step up and score, that's your job as center. When they need you to get back on defense, that's your job. You work around the entire field and support other people.'
The concept of support carries over to Laura's role as captain. "You have to be able to coordinate the plays. You call the plays and pick kids up if they're down. You also lead by example. You need to be the best you can be and also stay positive about your teammates and tell them to do better next time.'
It's hard to imagine the Indians perfecting upon their effort against East. They outshot the Patriots, 22-8. They kept East off the scoreboard until the 20-minute mark of the second half. On offense, Devon Mela and Anna Lehman would end the night scoring three goals apiece for the Indians. Taylor Campbell added two goals to the Rock cause. Marina Schreiner, Claire Jarema and Katy Lehman netted one goal apiece as North took a convincing 11-2 victory.
The win proved especially satisfying to their talented leader. "This win showed us that no matter what, everyone, regardless of position, can play a good game. We're working our way up. We're starting to transition from being individuals to working as a team. It's really a cool thing to watch and it's inspiring to me as captain. You start to see the pieces coming together.'
Presently, the Lady Indians sit atop the National Division with their 2-0 league record. Such early gives promise of many more inspirational moments this season.