Early on this season, first year Stone Bridge High girls’ lacrosse coach Kristin Howard likes what she has seen from her new Bulldogs’ squad.
"Our team is looking strong," said Howard, who recently moved to the Northern Virginia area from New Jersey. "We only lost two seniors [from last year], so we have a lot of returning players. They’ve been working real hard. They work well together and have fun as a team."
Stone Bridge won its season opener in a run-away, 28-3, on March 12 over Wakefield High. The non-district match-up was played in Arlington.
A year ago, Stone Bridge finished third in the Liberty District and made it to the second round of the 16-team Northern Region playoffs before losing to Yorktown, 10-9. For the season, the Bulldogs were 9-5.
<b>Howard said 54</b> kids (varsity and JV combined) came out for the team this season. She is pleased with the looks of her 18-member varsity roster (10 sophomores, five seniors and three juniors). She said she has felt right at home from the start this season.
"It’s gone real well," said Howard, a 2006 James Madison University graduate, who was hired as the new Stone Bridge coach in January. "The girls welcomed me very fast and they were looking forward to me being their coach. Our pre-season conditioning was tough. We’re trying to make this a program that [continues to] grow."
Some of the team’s top players this season will be senior center Kristen Pascale, senior attack wing Meghan DeMartino and Kelly Dunn, the defensive leader on the team. All three are team tri-captains.
Senior goalie Michelle Leon returns in the net for the Bulldogs, and sophomore Lauren Giusti will play an attack wing position.
DeMartino and Giusti will give Stone Bridge a nice one-two punch from the attack wing positions.
"Lauren is left-handed and has a really good shot and a sense of the field [around her]," said coach Howard. "Meghan is very aggressive. They both run full field a lot of the time. I have a very fast team."
Howard has been impressed with Leon’s aggressive style of play in the goal.
"She’s pretty strong," said Howard, who recently earned a masters degree from the University of Virginia. "She’s not afraid of the ball and she’ll step up for it. She’s a lefty and that confuses [opponents]. She’s not afraid to step up and get in front of the ball. She’s confident in there."
Other key members of the Stone Bridge squad this spring will include junior attack Amy Rollins, sophomore defensive wing Rachel Pascale (Kristen’s younger sister) and defensive wing Holly Kramer, a sophomore transfer student from Loudoun County High School.
Stone Bridge is off during this week’s Spring Break. Its next two games will be road contests at Falls Church (March 26) and Loudoun Valley (March 28).
"I think we can do really well this year," said Howard. "I have a lot of talent [on the team]. It’s a matter of putting it all to work."