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Nipmuc Girls LAX Grows Up Quickly

After graduating 11 seniors from a 10 win squad that qualified for the Central Mass tournament, Nipmuc girls' lacrosse head coach Chris Hadfield had no choice but to put a number of players into the varsity mix who had limited experience. "We had a whole new crew from the JV team," he said. "We gave a lot of playing time to players without a ton of varsity experience."
Ten games into the season, the Warriors have a 6-4 record, and have shown signs of improvement along the way. "I'm very optimistic to where we will end up," said Hadfield. "We have a very athletic team and that makes up for some of our inexperience, and you can see the girls getting more comfortable the more experience they get."
Hadfield did have a few talented returning players, including the program's all-time leading goal scorer, Trinity Scanlon. Nipmuc got another boost with the transfer of Rachel Hetu from Shrewsbury High School. The sophomore is second on the team in scoring behind Scanlon. "Rachel has had an instant impact," said Hadfield. "She's someone I am looking forward to having in the future as well."
Right now, Scanlon and Hetu lead an offense that has been the strength of the Nipmuc team. "Our attack is even better than I thought it would be," said Hadfield. "With our top scorers back and added offense from Rachel, I keep telling the girls 'we can't be stopped, we just need to get possession more and play better defense.'"
The Warriors are expecting to have one of their top players from last season, Meredith Collins, back this week following an early season injury. Collins will aid with the attack, but Hadfield would like to see more improvement on the other side of the field. Megan Roche has been consistent in her first year in net and Emily David-Shoffer has been a standout defender, but improving defense remains a focus.
"We still need to work on defense, but the way we have come along has been outstanding," said Hadfield. "We have a lot of work to do in that area, and once we can be a little better in our settled defense we will be much better off."
Nipmuc has a number of difficult games left on the regular season schedule. The Warriors will look to avenge a loss earlier in the season against Tantasqua, and will also take on a Nashoba team that ended the 2011 campaign with a 14-11 win over Nipmuc in last year's tournament.
"I think the Tantasqua game and the Nashoba game, along with Groton-Dunstable, who we haven't played yet, will define the season," said Hadfield. "We are expecting good competition and if we can win them all, it' would be outstanding."
The Nashoba game is particularly meaningful to Nipmuc after the way last season ended. "They got us last year but we are looking forward to the rematch," said Hadfield. "It was a very intense play-off game and we look forward to hosting them this year, we want to get some revenge."




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