By Hannah Himes | [email protected]
Just last year, the Bishop Ireton High School varsity girls’ lacrosse team won the state championship 8-7 against rivals St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes.
It was their fourth VISAA title in five years and what B.I. Head Coach Richard Sofield called a “pretty incredible game,” complete with four overtimes.[Read about last year’s epic championship game]
This year, the Cardinals are well into another successful season with an 8-3 record. B.I. Athletic Director Bryce Bevill said what he’s seen so far, from the girls’ work ethic to the team schedule, bodes well for the team’s success.
Bevill said he’s looking forward to seeing the team “take of what [he’s] witnessed during off-season, which is dedication and hard work, sacrifice and developing a team culture and then just bringing that onto the lacrosse field.”
Sofield said he wouldn’t call the relationship between B.I. and SSSAS a “rivalry.”
“It’s a friendly, competitive game,” he said. “We like playing them. They’re a really good team, and they give us a chance to test ourselves.”
One of B.I.’s three senior captains, Maggie McHugh, said SSSAS is one of the teams B.I. looks forward to playing every year because the two teams only face each other in the playoffs.
“They’re right down the road, and it’s a lot of people [who] people went to middle school with and have known for a long time, and even played lacrosse with, so there’s a big personal connection,” McHugh said.
The Cardinals will play 18 regular season games and up to six playoff games this year, with practices every weekday after school and most Saturdays.
The team started preparing for this year’s season last June, less than a month after locking down the state championship on May 20. Starting early ensures that the girls are in shape for workouts during the school year, which continue to prepare them for the season in the spring, Sofield said.
“When we get into the spring, that’s when we can focus on lacrosse,” Sofield said.
McHugh said she’s most excited for the six playoff games in May.
“That’s the best part of the season every year,” McHugh said.
Captain Anna Cate Gately said going head-to-head with SSSAS is exciting because it’s “the final show.” The third captain, Briana Lantuh, agreed.
“It’s what we prepare for all year,” Lantuh said. “It’s just a super fun and competitive game for everybody, and everyone loves every minute of it.”
Gately said this season is special to her because she gets to play lacrosse with her little sister, Maggie Gately, a B.I. freshman.
“I love, love playing with her,” Anna Cate Gately said. “But more so than that, she gets to experience like the whole family aspect of it and that everyone … cares about everyone, and we just all do it for the purpose of leading to six games in May.”
Lantuh said the family culture of the team is important to her too.
“Everyone definitely has each other’s backs on this team,” she said. “We definitely come together throughout the season and grow closer and closer to each other.”
Sofield said it’s “always too early” to make predictions about how a season is going to go, but that this season will be a success if the team plays their best lacrosse in May.
“The idea is regardless of whether or not, you know, we win championships, that we actually did get better, and we played our best lacrosse in the playoffs,” Sofield said.
McHugh said Sofield always tells the team if they do the little things right, they’ll do the big things right.
“I think what’s going to be successful is if we’re doing those little things right and it’s going to carry into the playoffs,” McHugh said.
B.I. plays its next home game against Paul VI Catholic High School on April 30.