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Saints Excel with Mix of Youth, Experience

SSSAS girls lacrosse improves to 10-2 with win over Stone Ridge.

Cold air, wet turf and the Stone Ridge defense were no match for Carly Reed.

The freshman attacker scored three first-half goals and added a fourth in the closing minute of the contest as the St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes girls lacrosse team improved to 10-2 with a 14-4 victory on April 13.

Reed’s first-half goals came during a five-minute stretch and helped give the Saints a 7-1 advantage.

"She’s explosive," Saints head coach Kathy Jenkins said of Reed, "and she never stops running."

The physical abilities of the 5-foot-8 freshman make her a scoring threat for one of the country’s top-ranked programs, and Reed figures to get better with time. But the mental aspect of her game — primarily her confidence — needed a boost in the early going.

"I was scared earlier in the season but now that [the team is] closer we’re like a big family," Reed said. "I feel a lot better going to the goal and trying to take it by myself sometimes, because I used to be scared to do that."

REED GOT HELP from her "family" when SSSAS hosted the 19th Annual Girls Lacrosse Spring Fling on April 10, featuring teams from Maryland, New York and Illinois, among other states. The Saints won both their games, beating St. Anthony’s (New York) 11-10 and Loyola Academy (Illinois) 10-8. It was against St. Anthony’s that Reed remembers overcoming her fear of being a freshman on varsity trying to do too much.

"We were down and [senior] Reilly [Woodman] passed me the ball and I was scared," Reed said. "I didn’t know if I should pass it to a senior [or] wait for them to come so they could take it. But then everyone [said], ‘Take it,’ so I just took it and we won."

Jenkins, in her 34th season as the girls lacrosse coach at SSSAS, uses a system set up for this kind of support. She teaches fifth-graders, works with middle school athletes and the Saints’ junior varsity and varsity teams practice on the same field. Young players work with older, more experienced athletes and gain comfort with the age gap. Reed, in her first year at the school, needed time, but eventually gained confidence as an underclassman playing for a national power.

"We have really good team chemistry and we have a lot of bonding," Reed said. "All the girls on the team get along, even with the big age span from seniors to freshman."

WOODMAN, A SENIOR, sees things in a similar fashion.

"We have really good chemistry," she said, "and I think that has made us play well together. It makes us look forward to playing together every day."

Woodman is the Saints’ leading goal scorer with 41, including three against Stone Ridge. Jenkins said Woodman, who will play for Georgetown next season, has improved during each of her three seasons on varsity and has become a more well-rounded player.

"She’s really developed into a top-notch attack," Jenkins said. "She has very quick hands and very quick feet."

Woodman, a team captain, is one of six seniors who have committed to play college lacrosse next season. Midfielder Kelsey Horton, who Jenkins said wins nearly every draw, is going to Maryland. Attacker Taelor Salmon, a captain, is headed to William & Mary, defender Emily Rhoads, also a team captain, is going to James Madison, defender Kendall Akey will go to Gettysburg and defender Sheridan Gribbon is going to Colorado College.

SSSAS also has two juniors — defender Hannah Mullen (Harvard) and defender Claire Curran (Yale) — who have committed.

Jenkins referred to the Saints as a young team — they have nine freshmen and sophomores on the roster. But with underclassmen like Reed and freshman Besser Dyson, who scored three goals against Stone Ridge, SSSAS appears to have the ammo for a run at yet another ISL title.

"She’s very, very athletic and fast," Jenkins said of Reed. "She has a lot of energy. She’s not afraid to take a risk at all. She plays a lot on instinct and she goes hard. She’s really fun to coach."

And one day, maybe she’ll be a senior helping a freshman with her confidence.