Last season, the Smyrna girls lacrosse team made the playoffs for the first time in the program’s history. Now, more than halfway through the 2017 campaign, they aim to return for their second straight postseason appearance in just their fourth season as a varsity program.
“We did make the 10-seed tournament, but lost eight of our 12 starters from last year’s team and our assistant coach who was a big contributor to our offense,” said Smyrna Head Coach Amy Musto. “So, we knew we’d have our work cut out for us this year.”
Through nine games, a young Lady Eagles squad sits at 6-3 which is good enough for third in the Henlopen North Division behind Polytech (5-2) and the eight-time defending state champion Cape Henlopen (6-1).
After opening the season with a two goal loss to Sussex Tech, Smyrna rallied off four straight wins, knocking off DMA, Concord, Dover and Newark Charter to jump out to a 4-1 start.
“That Sussex Tech game is one we’d like to play again, we have a lot of players who had never played the game and they’ve all contributed since and they’re continuing to work hard,” said Musto. “They’re just a hungry group and they’re playing with everything they have - still really young and with our success so far, we’re just looking to build on it.”
The aforementioned Cape Henlopen Vikings gave Smyrna a learning experience in an 18-2 loss to one of Delaware’s most dominant programs. However, the Lady Eagles would again bounce back from a loss by winning two straight over St. Thomas More and Appoquinimink.
“Our biggest goal was to try and score more than any other team in the state has against them and limit their scoring to less than what they’ve scored on other teams,” said Musto. “We did wind up scoring more and both came from our freshman Emma Mayhew. I don’t think Cape had been scored on more than once when we were able to put up two goals. We came out feeling good that we were able to strike twice and we got back to work after that.”
Before the spring break, Smyrna fell to the same Caesar Rodney team that knocked them out in the first round of last year’s tournament. Though, this time they fared much better against the Lady Riders, falling in overtime, 12-11.
Throughout the season, the Lady Eagles have put one of the state’s most dynamic offenses on the field. Entering this week’s play, Smyrna has scored 116 total goals, third best in the state behind St. Mark’s (117) and Appoquinimink (118).
This season, 12 different Smyrna players have found the back of the cage, led by junior Juliana Kolakowski with 29 goals. Joining Kolakowski with double-digit goals for Smyrna are Julie Snow (10), Madeline Wilber (11), Sierra Duman (20) and freshman Emma Mayew (22).
Their offense has scored in double-digits in all but one game, reaching 18 goals or more in three of those games.
Defensively, a young core led by Raina Semenick - one of four players including Kolakowski, Wilber and freshman Jessica Bergold to be invited to play in the US National Lacrosse Tournament at Yale University - have improved throughout the season in front of goalie Katelynn Porter.
Coach Musto believes the team’s attitude toward playing a full game has contributed to their well-rounded offense and an ever growing defensive unit.
“It’s amazing, we’ve had four games were eight different players have scored, they play so unselfishly,” Musto said. “I believe we’re a really strong second half team, we have the mindset that we know it’s a long game and no matter the ups and downs, we have two halves to play.”
They’ll need to keep clicking in all phases down the stretch as they head into their final contests of the regular season. After a matchup Tuesday at Newark, the Lady Eagles will have just five games remaining, including three important conference games.
At 1-3 within the conference, upcoming games against Sussex Academy (4-3), Indian River (2-4) and Polytech will be doubly important.
After that challenge, another will lie ahead in their final two out-of-conference games against Padua Academy (4-1) and Caravel Academy (4-3).
“I think we’re going to finish strong and we’ll definitely have a winning record - it was tough to take this break but I think it was really good for us,” Musto said. “Our team is really tight and we’re very supportive of each other which is driving our momentum forward.”