The J. Taylor Finley Middle School girls’ lacrosse team is impressing its opponents after winning four of its first five games. Coached by Hildi Stanford and Greg Dieterich, have the squad playing very well and as a unit as the seventh and eighth graders are gaining in skill and confidence.
The team is led by eighth graders Riley Uvena, Mia Johnson, Shannon Koepele and Domenica Elgart, who are serving as this year’s captains. Julianna Ackerman has also returned as the team’s draw specialist, jumping into the game to help her team out whenever it’s needed.
The team’s depth has been buttressed by the addition of eighth graders Emili Lincona, Breilin Perez, Kennedy Banner, Zoe Selleri, Chelsea Gordon, Louisa Skrobela, Olivia Kaufman, Sage Cicciari, and Grace Olivia. “Watching these girls on the field together, it’s hard to believe they have never played before,” Stanford said.
Eighth grader Giselle Salmeron is also new to the team; new to her position and new to the sport of lacrosse. “She has been lights out as a goalie for the team by making critical saves,” Stanford said. “Her fearlessness and desire to learn has helped her pick up the position quickly and effortlessly.”
Finley’s seventh graders brought a good deal of experience with them to the team this spring. Madyn Kalb, Leighton Evans and Fiona Lynch have meshed in quite well with the eighth graders on the offensive line. Their speed combined with their quick wit on the field have made them all integral parts of the team.
Grace Kline and Grace Callery have become top targets as they are tough to beat on attack. “In the face of a strong opposing defense, both players have the ability to get themselves open and cut to the cage,” Stanford said. “Once the ball is in their stick, both players can rip a pretty powerful shot.”
Starting on the midfield line is seventh grader Ava McDonald, who is as talented as she is entertaining to watch. “She is a powerful midfielder with speed to match her strength,” Stanford said. “Her ability to win the draw sets the offense in motion. Once she decides to drive to the goal, it is difficult to stop her; however, she also has a way of finding the open player. A true team player, she is always looking to assist and support her teammates. It’s no wonder she leads the team in both goals and assists.”
Adding to the midfield line’s talent is seventh grade newcomer Alexis (Lexi) Haas. “Lexi is a natural talent on the field, as if she has always played,” Standford said. “Her speed and quick learned stick skills have rapidly made her a force to be reckoned with.”
Seventh graders Dakota Respass, Caroline Mitek, Kate Gordon and Erin Langton have been standing strong on defense to protect the Finley goal. “They have a knack for forcing turnovers and keeping opponents’ scoring opportunities to a minimum,” Stanford said.
An experienced goalie, Andie DiGioia adds depth to the team’s corps of seventh graders. Brand new to lacrosse and rounding out the squad are seventh graders Amelia Carino, Elliot Manu, Darcy Verville and Alexandra (Ali) Learned. “These players share the same positive outlook, willingness to work hard and desire to learn the sport.” Stanford said. “Overall, the girls’ team is set to finish the season as strongly as we started.”