Ten years ago, Hanover County high school lacrosse was a dream of a group of players, parents and fans. Today, there are girls and boys teams at all four high schools and they begin their first season eligible for Virginia High School League (VHSL) state championships. This preview focuses on the four women’s teams vying for newfound opportunities.
In their fourth season, Atlee (14-2) returns six of 11 starters who lost in the Club Championship last June to Midlothian. Peyton Krevonick will be counted on early to lead an inexperienced defense as her three starting teammates will all be new. Sarah Colombo, Jessica Sanfilippo and Sarah Hatch are back on the attack, while Emily Smith and Sarah Buckley anchor the midfield.
Look for newcomers Emily Fulk and Hayley Anna, from field hockey, to contribute quickly.
“With 15 sophomores on our roster, we’ll certainly be young. Having VHSL status makes this an interesting year,” head coach Tom MacKay said.
One place where experience is deep is in goal, as Savanah Dicken returns for her fourth season of play. Dicken allowed under six goals per game in 16 starts in 2013.
At Hanover, coach Bill Karn must replace goalkeeper Bailey Lien, now a field hockey standout at Christopher Newport. He’ll have nine returning players with experience to help sophomore Lexi McLaughlin as she takes over in front of the net, led by defenders Laura Blunt, Savannah Weatherford, and Jada Jordan.
The engine of the Hawks belongs to Michelle Knizner. The versatile junior is joined at midfield by senior Sarah Belcher and sophomore Delaney Daniels. Watch for Kara Kane, Angelina Piccollomini, both excellent field hockey players, and sophomore Catherine Fisher to lead the offensive attack.
“We’ll count on our defense, Jordan, Blunt, Weatherford, to help us early. They’re fast and experienced. Our top priority in the offseason was developing a new goalie,” Karn explained, adding improved stick skills was also a priority before the season.
Improved fundamentals will be key for all county teams, as the Hawks, Raiders, and Lee-Davis are grouped in the new “Richmond Zone” for VHSL playoff purposes with Deep Run, Glen Allen, Mills Godwin, and Douglas Freeman.
The Confederates are the newest team in the county, only in their second season of existence. There is no doubt they will have athleticism on their side, as they look for the program’s first victory after going 0-7 last year.
Familiar names from the State 5A Semifinalist field hockey team like Harper Matthews (midfield), Amanda Loving (defense) and Abby Myers (midfield) return for their second season, along with junior attackers Kaitlyn Harrison, Jessica Chambers and Abigail Cooper. Loving gets help from senior Christina Howard and juniors Megan Evans and Sarah Jenkins, all in front of freshman goalie Christa Hill.
“We focused on conditioning and our stick skills in the off-season,” Lee-Davis head coach Pam Hill said. “We need everyone to contribute from the start and I know these girls will leave it all on the field.”
Joining the Confederates this year: sophomore defender Kayla Currie and juniors Sadie Adkins and Taylor Brooks.
At Patrick Henry, they begin their VHSL era grouped in the Charlottesville zone. Come playoff time, they’ll be facing the likes of Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Albemarle and Monticello.
But new head coach Megan Greenbaum will worry about that in two months. For now she must replace five seniors including Hannah Herbert and Emily Agliano.
Samantha Adams, a junior, returns in goal, surrounded on defense by sophomore Allyson Flinn and juniors Logan Richardson and Logan Tinsley. Seniors Gabby Cowardin and Victoria Mathurin round out the most experienced part of the Patriots’ roster.
Adding to the midfield and attack areas will be senior transfer Miana Sebra from Hanover. She’ll join Jane Johnson, Shannan Ballance, and newcomers Sarah Knippschild, Paula Matushcka and Madeline Montgomery, all juniors.
Greenbaum notes her team, too, was concerned with improving stick skills during off-season workouts. As a first-year coach, she’s grateful for a senior core.
“We have a great group of seniors who will be a major asset to our team. They’re all over the field, and their leadership will help the new varsity players mature very quickly.”
Patrick Henry is already down one game with Monday’s opener versus Lee-Davis, a victim of the wintry weather which won’t be made up until May 9. But that won’t stop their drive to improve on a 4-6 record of a year ago.
“This team is hungry, and they’re ready to take our program to the next level,” Greenbaum said.