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Nipmuc Girls LAX Looks to Stay on Top

For the past five seasons, Nipmuc girls' lacrosse has been at the top of the SWCL and head coach Chris Hadfield sees no reason anything should change in this season, his first at the helm of the varsity. "I expect us to win the league," he said. "We have won it the last five years and I feel the title is ours if the girls play well."
The 2010 squad finished 10-8 and shared the league title with Tantasqua. This year's team will trot out a line-up that features 10 returning starters and 11 seniors. The most experienced unit is on defense, with a goaltender and four defenders who have all started and played together and their sophomore years.
Lauren Neilan is back for a third year starting in goal. Fellow seniors Meg Mattox, Erin Massey, Brooke Lavalle and Ashley Donnelon are all expected to play key roles on defense. Additional seniors-Ashley Spindel, Kelly Hodgeson and Erica Mazzerlli-will anchor the midfield. "The midfield is the engine of the team," said Hadfield.
The top two scorers from last year's team will also lead this year's attack. Junior Trinity Scanlon was team's leading goal scorer in 2010. Senior Kelsey Langevin was second on the team and Hadfield thinks they will produce similar numbers this year. "They will need to score many goals for this team to be successful," he said. "We are expecting them to lead the team in scoring once again."
With about 30 girls, the girls lacrosse program does not have the same numbers as the boys. Hadfield says most of his talent comes from simply asking athletes to give lacrosse and try. He also sees a difference in those who have come through the youth feeder program. "The girls who come from those programs tend to become starters right away," said Hadfield. "They have many of the basic skills down, such as catching the ball, and their sticks still are so much better."
Still, Hadfield says the success of the program and word-of-mouth is most responsible for its growth. "It has caught on and I expect it to really continue to catch on next year," he said. "The girls program is doing well and we have been recruiting girls to try lacrosse."
The young but growing program achieved a first last year when it hosted a postseason game for the first time. Nipmuc won that game, beating St. Bernard's, before falling to Wachusett in the second round. In lacrosse, there is only one division, so playing larger schools presents a daunting challenge for the smaller ones. Another challenge has been being league rival Tantasqua on the road, something Hadfield hopes to accomplish in 2011.




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