Large roster, new members foster excitement

Charlotte Tomlin

The lights slowly flicker on at the Gene and Jerry Jones Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 28, illuminating the gray lines that mark the eight and 12-meter lines. As “Runaway,” by Galantis, blares over the stadium speakers, freshman Margot Cathey jogs around the field with her fellow teammates, eager to hear the first draw whistle blow, marking the beginning of her first game with the ESD girls varsity lacrosse team. After three weeks of intense early-morning practices, a trip to Houston and the stressful waiting game of team placement, it had all come to fruition for Cathey. It’s game time.

Coming off a third place SPC finish last season, the girls varsity lacrosse team finished with high spirits and an intense excitement for the upcoming year.

“There has been a lot of growth in the team numbers between last year and this year,” sophomore returning varsity member Katherine Clark said. “I think that has brought more energy to the team and positivity in practice which has enabled us to perform better on the field. The effort and hustle is a major difference this season I would say. I am looking forward to this season.”

In the 2022 season, the girls team consisted of only 15 players — extremely light numbers for a sport with 11 players on the field and lots of substituting required. This year, the varsity roster comes in at 20 members, eight of which are freshmen.

“This season, there are more seniors, which I think makes a big difference,” senior varsity player Ella Sjogren said. “There are more people to serve as examples for the underclassmen as well as returners who can lead the team.”

The large number of freshmen on the varsity team brings excitement, with also some apprehension, to the team.

“I love being on varsity and playing with upperclassmen because I feel like it makes me better as a player,” Cathey said. “Playing at a high school level increases my skill. It is a lot of pressure being the youngest for sure, but the upperclassmen are really nice about it and very supportive and welcoming.”

Many freshmen feel the pressure of being the youngest on the team, anxious about entering a team with players that have been playing together for two or more years already.

“It is definitely hard to be around more advanced players on the team,” freshman Harper Sands said. “Building chemistry with a team that has been together and already has chemistry is extremely difficult. But, the upperclassmen are so welcoming and helpful, so they definitely make the transition a lot easier.”

Following the first week of full team practice, a team was selected to travel to Houston for the Coach K Playday tournament, named for the revered late Coach K of St. John’s School. The trip was used as an opportunity to display ability in a game setting that does not happen in regular season tryouts, as well as bring the team closer together and allow for chemistry to be developed off the field. The team played four games on Feb. 18, emerging triumphantly in all.

“When we first got to Houston, we all had dinner together and had some great team bonding time,” Cathey said. “I was super nervous for the games on Saturday because it was going to be my first time playing a game with the older girls and in front of the coaches. After playing in the games, my nerves were [eased] quite a bit, but I had a blast getting to play with the older girls.”

On Feb. 23, the team faced off against Walton High School in their home opener. Walton, hailing from Marietta, Georgia, was ranked fifth in the state of Georgia for lacrosse last year and 40th in the nation. The Eagles fell to Walton in a hard-fought game, but spirits still remain high.

“We had a tough loss versus a very strong team, Walton,” Clark said. “We have more games in the next few weeks that will help us develop individually and build some more team chemistry. I think our team this year has so much potential to be really good, we just have to want it and work hard.”

Since the loss against Walton the girls developed a winning record. On Feb. 28, the girls faced Greenhill,  ending in a 17-4 win. On March 3, the Eagles fell to Anderson, 12-10, in a hard-fought game. On March 8, the girls won 17-4 against Southlake. Coming off of spring break, the girls continued their winning streak with a 18-8 win against Westlake—the 2022 State Championship runner-up—on March 25. On March 28, the Eagles traveled to McKinney, beating the Blue Jays 19-2 in a great showing of skill and teamwork. Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the girls are excited about playing difficult games against opponents and becoming closer as a team.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how far this team can go and continuing to get better every day in practice and in games,” senior captain Camryn Kowalewski said. “With a lot of young talent coming in, the team is excited for their potential, and the team is much closer this year because of lots of team bonding and joint passion for the game. We are a fast-learning team, and it’s really exciting to watch it all come together. Our team is so deep and filled with so much talent and hard-working, passionate people, so I believe we will go very far and succeed.”

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