Success will likely come in small steps for the South Lakes High girls’ lacrosse team this season.
The Seahawks, under first year head coach Kristen Black, opened the new season up last week with a 13-3 loss at local rival Herndon.
Black, who was hired as South Lakes’ new coach in February, takes over a program that finished second to last in the Liberty District last year. Over the first part of the current season, including the preseason and the first week of the regular season, coach Black has been learning about her new team.
"It’s been about learning each others’ strengths and weaknesses," said Black, of getting her feet wet as the team’s coach, and the Seahawk players’ adjustment to their new leader. "I have to get to know the girls."
Over the course of the team’s two practice games, a 5-0 loss to Washington-Lee and a 10-2 loss to Falls Church, and its season opener setback to non-district foe Herndon, Black has seen improvement in her team’s play.
"We’re starting to achieve small goals," she said. "Each game has been an improvement. We’re trying to work on the little things like groundballs, getting shots on goal and transition."
<b>Coach Black</b> said her squad is receiving good leadership from senior tri-captains Tess Deatley, a junior midfielder, Elise Roach, a senior midfielder, and Sarah Hazelton, a senior defender.
The trio gives South Lakes a strong core of players on the field.
"Tess is the scrappiest player we have," said Black, of Deatley’s game. "She’ll go for anything and she’s a hard worker. We can rely on her to get a lot done."
Elise Roach, who scored two goals in the loss to Herndon, is improving much like the team.
" She’s really solid out there," said the coach. "We’re trying to get her to be a little more consistent. We’ll look for her to score goals."
Hazelton is the team’s best defensive player and a verbal leader.
"She’s like the anchor of the defense," said Black. "She’s the one out there who is always talking. She and Natalie Kendall play so well together."
Kendall, a sophomore defender, has a bright future with the program.
"We’re definitely looking for her to become one of our leaders in the upcoming years," said Black.
Playing goalie for the Seahawks is senior Paulina Codera.
Coach Black said South Lakes will continue to show improvement by working together as a unit. Relying on one or two players to carry the load will not prove successful for the Seahawks.
"The biggest challenge for us so far is to get away from expecting one person [to carry us]," she said. "Things will start working when we’re playing together."
Black, who is from Canada, has been playing lacrosse since she was nine years old. She played the sport collegiately at Limestone College (S.C.) for four years as a midfielder and defenseman.
South Lakes’ next game is scheduled for April 1 when the Seahawks open up their Liberty District schedule with visiting Woodson.