Decatur Girls Reload, Not Rebuild

BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s girl lacrosse team lost 12 seniors from last year’s state regional championship team, but with a strong group of returners and a young group of players ready to step into the void, the Seahawks appear to be reloading rather than rebuilding as they prepare for the 2008 campaign.

Last year’s edition went a perfect 14-0 in the regular season and captured its second straight Bayside Conference title. The Seahawks then won the state 3A-2A East Region title before falling in the state semifinals. Reaching such lofty heights has been the norm and not the exception for Decatur in recent years and despite graduating much of its starting team from last year, the Seahawks should be in position to get back there this year.

Starting up front in the homes position for Decatur this year will be a couple of veteran scorers in Olivia Turner and Emily Smith. The attack wing could be the strongest unit on the field for Decatur this spring with veteran Bethany Howe and Alyssa Hardesty leading the way. Joining Howe and Hardesty on the attack wing will be freshman Sarah Wooten and Nicole Dugan.

Decatur will rely on prolific scorers Howe and Turner to create much of the offense, but Coach Bob Musitano is looking for other sources of goals in his line-up. “Last year, we got a lot of offensive production from our D-wing, which allowed us to spread the offense,” he said. “It kept other teams from keying on just two or three players.”

The Seahawks should be strong in the middle of the field again this year with Charlotte Deck, who was rehabbing a knee last year, anchoring the center position. The defensive wing, or D-Wing, will be led by veterans Erin McGuire and Taylor Blazer.

Keeping the opponent’s ball out of the net is obviously the key in any lacrosse game and the Seahawks appear to have the potential to be stingy on defense. Taylor Phillips, who stepped up big as a sophomore last year, returns at the starting goalkeeper this year. Phillips will be backed up by another returning player in Caroline Kasik.

Supporting the goalkeepers will be a solid group of low defenders in Lindsey Parker, Chelsea King, Sara Miller and Lindsey Miller. The one player Coach Bob Musitano is anxious to get back on the field is junior Chele Lathroum, who is rehabbing an injury.

“Chele is one player that I can put at almost any position on the field,” he said. “She can play anywhere, although she is one of our most solid defenders. She should be back by the opener.”

While his team is young this year, Musitano said he expects no big drop-off in the level of play on the field. Most of the players in the roster play lacrosse almost all year long. “They all play together over the summer in various other programs like Beach Lacrosse and Greene Turtle Lacrosse,” he said. “We have a great feeder system which provides us with continuity.”

The Seahawks open the season with a road game against Parkside next Tuesday before the home opener against Bennett next Thursday.