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Stallions Enjoy 'That Clean Slate’

South County girls’ lacrosse gets fresh start under first-year coach Liz Schaffner.

In the early stages of the spring sports season, almost every coach spent countless hours on the practice field, prepping his or her team for regular-season play and trying to iron out any deficiencies that haven’t been corrected from last year.

South County girls’ lacrosse coach Liz Schaffner adopted a different approach, at least with respect to the emphasis on last spring, when the Stallions went 13-4 and lost to W.T. Woodson in the Northern Region semifinals.

Schaffner’s stand comes partly out of necessity and partly out of desire, as she was hired to assume the reins at South County in October with little sense of the Stallions’ strengths and weaknesses in 2008.

That’s just fine, according to the coach. It gave Schaffner an opportunity to construct a program from scratch, which is one of the primary reasons the longtime George Mason University assistant landed at South County.

“You can start with that clean slate,” said Schaffner, whose team has won two out of its first three games this season. “I don’t know who was scoring all of the goals last year, but I know who’s doing it this year and so far it’s working for us.”

Schaffner came to South County having no prior experience at the high school level. She helped start the SuperNOVA Select Lacrosse Club five years ago, and, during a 10-year run (1998-2008) at Mason, looked after a defense that was consistently one of the conference’s best, setting a school record for fewest goals allowed (121) during her first season of work.

<b>SO FAR</b> this spring, Schaffner has changed little in how she handles practices and drills.

“We’re still learning the sport of lacrosse,” Schaffner said. “Winning is still important. It’s not the only thing, but it’s definitely still important. So I want the players, whether they’re playing for my high school team or my club team, to be prepared.”

One of the players that should help South County this spring, senior midfielder Caris Moses, was one of the few that Schaffner knew prior to taking the job, thanks to SuperNOVA. According to Schaffner, Moses, normally quiet and reserved, has developed into an important leader this season.

With her ability to control the offensive end, Moses should help create more opportunities for junior midfielder Megan Wears, sophomore midfielder Erica Binzer and junior attack Rachel Covas. Schaffner praised Wears’ talents on draw control, Binzer’s “lightning-fast” speed and Covas’ scoring touch. In a 15-9 loss to Langley on March 12, Binzer had six of the team’s goals.