Both the present and future of St. Anne’s-Belfield and Covenant’s girls lacrosse programs were on display on a chilly Thursday evening as two squads with young, inexperienced rosters squared off in an early season duel as the Saints picked up a 20-9 victory over the Eagles.
“We only have four returners, that’s it,” said STAB coach Mary Blake.
For a team coming off two straight state final four trips, it’s the clear end of an era highlighted for several years by the play of Annie Cory, Julia Haney, Caroline DiGiacomo, Mailynn Steppe, Audrey Schreck and other standouts who took the Saints to a couple of LIS championships in addition to those state tournament runs.
“It’s definitely a different mentality and it’s difficult for the kids who have played for the last two years and know what that championship-feel feels like,” Blake said. “We can’t keep those expectations right now — maybe later in the season, but right now we just need to take care of fundamentals.”
Those fundamentals looked good at times against the Eagles, with the offense exploding for 20 goals behind five goals from McKenzie Maurer and four each from Elizabeth Carden and Claire Schotta, but the Saints’ defense struggled to close down on drives by the Eagles, who were particularly aggressive at taking the ball to the cage early on.
“This is going to be a big learning curve and where we are now is not where we’re going to be in May but we have several girls who haven’t picked up a stick before, it’s their first time playing,” Blake said.
Covenant’s program, in its first year under Kim Parsons, faces a similar climb. Early on, the Eagles played the Saints largely even, trailing just 8-5 midway through the first half. But a four-goal run to end the half put Covenant in a hole that was too tough to climb out of.
“I’ve got hard-working players who are definitely buying into what we’re teaching them it’s all about getting it to work in that one direction, that right direction,” Parsons said. “And that’ll happen.”
The Eagles’ roster is packed with eighth and ninth graders, leaving Covenant with a lot of young talent but not much in the way of experience. They’ll lean on a similar core that led the Covenant field hockey program to a state title in the fall as Lizzy Shim, Maysn Whitten and Wynston Archer fill a variety of roles. Shim had three goals against the Saints while Archer notched four goals and won six draws.
Katie Define chipped in a pair of goals for STAB to round out the bulk of the Saints’ offensive effort.
The Saints and Eagles both face a quick turnaround after this game was originally scheduled to be played Wednesday but was shifted to Thursday due to low temperatures. STAB plays another LIS game Friday at 4:30 against Saint Gertrude at home while Covenant hits the road to take on Steward.