SCARBOROUGH – In high school sports, nothing is more menacing to opposing teams than consistency.
After all, the inherent nature of the system is unpredictability. Who is coming up through middle school? Who is going to replace all that talent a team just lost? These are questions that plague the head coaches of even the best teams, and they are what bring about the downfall of successful programs, as well as the rise of new powers.
And yet, for one year, at least, they might be the least of Scarborough girls lacrosse Head Coach Marcia Wood’s concerns. Yes, Wood is losing four extremely talented seniors, but into their shoes will step 11 skilled juniors who – oh yes – just went back-to-back on state title runs. If you’re a Kennebunk or a Gorham, that’s probably not the news you wanted to receive hot on the heels of the Red Storm’s second consecutive title.
“I definitely think we are going to have a bit of a target on our backs next year,” Wood laughed. “It’s exciting. These girls are just such great kids, and they put their time and effort in during the offseason, and they are just all about lacrosse. I am going to miss my seniors, because they definitely did what they needed to do this year; they did a great job with their leadership and their play. But I am excited to have the bulk of this team back next year.”
In fact, Wood is returning so many players – 21 out of 25 – that it begs the question about whether or not that “target” comment was tongue-in-cheek. Target on whose back, exactly?
“We’re not going to say anything yet,” said returning captain Laura Przybylowicz with a knowing smile. “We’re going to miss the seniors, but we definitely have a talented junior, sophomore and freshman team coming up.”
That’s an understatement. Some of the Red Storm’s leading threats – downright dynamic players like Przybylowicz, Kelsey Howard, Maggie Smith, Mary Scott, Kat Gadbois and goalie Meg Kirsch, just to name a few – are back next year. Their names read off like the roster of an all-star team, and they are sure to give opposing schools even more headaches with yet another offseason of conditioning and practices under their belts.
Mum was not the word for departing captain Meghan Quirk, who was confident that there is a heck of a storm brewing.
“I think we can definitely repeat,” she said. “We have a bunch of players coming back, and I think we have what it takes to do the repeat again, and I hope that we do.”
Having said all that, the Storm will certain miss the leadership of Dani Foster, Quirk, Erica Meader and Jill Deering, who were the tightly-knit nucleus of this year’s title team.
“It was a great year this year, last year was great,” Deering said after the game, her voice cracking. “I don’t even know. I’m going to miss this a lot, because Scarborough is full of such great athletic programs and people.”
Deering and the rest of the seniors can look back on their road to this title with pride. Aside from a single blemish – a16-11 loss to Yarmouth on April 30– Scarborough won every contest this season. Unlike the boys, however, who made a habit of bludgeoning foes, the girls had to overcome some almighty threats, winning close games against powers like Kennebunk and Gorham near the conclusion of the season, then notching tight playoff victories against Thornton Academy and Kennebunk. According to several players, however, the turning point in the year was the loss to Yarmouth.
“After that loss, coach told us that a couple of years ago when they first won states with her, they lost their last five games before they won in the playoffs, and that really took the pressure off,” Deering said. “It just goes to show you that you don’t have to win every game.”
“That loss definitely made us seem more vulnerable, and people knew they could beat us,” Howard added. “But it also fueled us and we knew that we were going to come back. We knew we were definitely going to hold our own and come back and get the title.”
There is one more consistency that the Red Storm will bring to bear next year, and this one is decidedly an intangible: friendship. The departing seniors and returning players share a powerful bond, and it will take an almighty force to calm Scarborough’s howling tempest once this bunch gets on a tear.
“We have all played lacrosse together for the past four years on the same team, and we really know each other in and out,” Quirk said. “We know each other on the field, but we also care about each other as friends, so it made it very easy for us as teammates to enjoy playing alongside each other.”
Watch out, Class A. The Storm will be back.