By Hannah Himes | firstname.lastname@example.org
The St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School varsity girls’ lacrosse team’s word of the year is “purpose.”
One of the team’s three senior captains, Alex Burtnett, said it means going into each practice with a goal.
“[It’s] striving to make the whole team better so that we can be successful throughout the season and when it really comes down to the nitty-gritty in playoffs,” Burtnett said.
Last year, SSSAS went head-to-head against city rival Bishop Ireton in the state championship. B.I. won by just one point in a game that went into four overtimes, something SSSAS Head Coach Kathy Jenkins said she hadn’t seen in her more than 40 years of coaching.
To add insult to injury, most of the team’s losses last year had been by one goal, Jenkins said.
“[It was] a little bit hard to take,” she said.
This year, SSSAS is off to a successful start with a record of 15-1.
Captain Kennon Moon said the rivalry between SSSAS and B.I. is fun because many members of each team have been playing against one another on club teams since they were little.
“You’re playing against people that you know and friends that you know, so it’s fun to play against them, and it’s always a competitive game,” Moon said.
Jenkins said B.I. is a good team with a lot of good athletes.
“I think as we get into the tournament time and we play each other, it’s always a very tight game and both teams play their hardest and their best,” Jenkins said. “It just has built to every year, that final game, everyone wants to do well and come out on top.”
This season, SSSAS has 18 scheduled games, with the possibility of six playoff games.
The team began preparing for the season on Feb. 25. The team doesn’t come together to practice until the lacrosse season starts, but since a lot of the girls play in a winter league and several younger players play for club teams, they’re still able to gain experience before the team officially starts practices, Jenkins said.
“At least they have a stick in their hand,” Jenkins said.
Captain Caroline Burnett said this year, the team’s chemistry is “blooming.”
“We’re all discovering each other’s tendencies and stuff like that,” Burnett said. “I think a lot of younger players are really stepping up this year. … As we have like a month left, I’m excited to keep growing as a team and see what we can do.”
Moon said she’s enjoyed building relationships with underclassmen.
“I think this year we’ve definitely come together more as a team, both on and off the field,” Moon said. “Going through the hallways, no matter what we’re always like seeing each other, we’re saying ‘hi’ to each other. I think it’s definitely a team that isn’t just on the lacrosse field.”
Jenkins said the culture of the team is the mark of a successful season.
“It’s not coming down to wins and losses but how you compete and come out and give your best every day,” Jenkins said. “At the end of the day, what the girls remember is how much fun that team was to be on and how they were treated.”
The team’s captains said that lesson has stuck with them.
“It’s how satisfied I, as an individual, feel and the team, really, feels at the end of the season about how we played, what we put into the season [and] what our goals were for the beginning of the season,” Burnett said.
Burtnett said she’ll measure her personal success by looking back on the season and knowing she put everything she had into it for her team and her teammates.
“No matter if we win or lose at the end, no matter what our record is, no matter how anything ends up but just that I know personally that I gave everything I could to make the program a better program,” Burtnett said.
She added that taking the VISAA title is something the team is striving for, but that they take it day-by-day and game-by-game.
SSSAS plays its next home game against Glenelg High School on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Correction: A photo caption in the original version of the article said Kennon Moon would be playing for Penn State next year. In reality, Moon will be playing for the University of Pennsylvania. The Times regrets the error.