The new high school girls’ lacrosse season got off to an outstanding start for the Centreville Wildcats, under first year head coach Brian Newell, as they doubled the score in a win against host team Fairfax High, 18-9, in the non-district contest played last week on March 16.
For a Centreville program that has notched just two wins in each of the last two years, it was a stirring, confidence-building victory against a Rebels’ team the Wildcats had lost to a year ago.
“We were a little sloppy at times, but we had some great individual efforts,” said Newell, a longtime youth coach in the area within both the Southwestern Youth Association (lacrosse) and the Chantilly Youth Association (football). “We have a lot of girls who can score goals.”
Newell, who was hired as the new Centreville coach this past December, has coached several SYA girls’ youth lacrosse teams in recent years. Currently, along with coaching the Wildcats’ varsity, he is also at the helm of a U-15 SYA girls’ team which competes within the Northern Virginia Youth Lacrosse League. He has led that group of girls to league titles over four of the past five years.
Newell, who has coached SYA girls’ lacrosse teams for seven years, is co-founder of the Cardinal Girls’ Lacrosse Club organization. Cardinal, in its fifth year of existence, is a year round elite program for girls throughout Northern Virginia, including Centreville and Chantilly, from the fifth through eighth grades. There are teams at each grade level.
Newell was also head coach of the Chantilly Youth Association (CYA) Vikings’ football team for 19 years.
He has enjoyed the transition to coaching high school athletics as the Centreville High girls’ lacrosse head coach this spring.
“It’s been great,” he said. “The girls have been phenomenal and they work very hard.”
Many of Centreville’s players are fairly new to the sport – six of the team’s starters are either freshmen or sophomores - but Newell has been impressed with his players’ desire to learn the fundamentals of lacrosse and of their overall athleticism.
“We’ve got s huge upside as well as a huge learning curb,” said Newell, of the vast potential of his players and team. “But they are picking it up fast.”
Some of the team’s top players this spring include seniors Rachel Behne (defense), Brittany Houhoulis (defense), Emily Bollman (midfield) and Solange Duong (attack), as well as sophomores Haley Anderson (midfield) and Maggie Dulkerian (midfield).
Anderson scored six goals in the win over Fairfax.
“She’s our best overall athlete,” said Newell, of the 10th grader. “She’s a scorer and tough on defense in the midfield.”
Dulkerian, who earned Second Team All-Concorde District honors last year as a freshman, tallied five goals in the Wildcats’ season opening win.
“She’s a tough kid with great range and she’s a good runner,” said Newell, of the left-handed shooting Dulkerian.
Duong was Centreville’s third leading scorer against the Rebels with four goals. She earned Second Team All-District accolades last year.
“She’s very quick and has a great first step,” said Newell. “She shoots with both her left and right hands and is a leader on the team.”
Defensively, the Wildcats have solid players in Behne and Houhoulis.
“Rachel is fast and athletic and can use either hand,” said the coach. “She’s a tough kid. “Brittany plays low defense [position] and is a tough, physical player.”
Bollman, meanwhile, is steady in the midfield.
“She’s good on both sides of the field – offense and defense,” said Newell.
<b>COACH NEWELL</b> has emphasized to his players the importance of strong overall team defense, regardless of position.
“Everyone has to be willing to play defense,” he said. “Our attackers and middies play defense.”
He also points out the importance of his players continuing to improve on their overall stick skills – their ability to control and pass the ball – as well as gaining greater knowledge and insight of the sport they are playing. Newell said he wants the lacrosse to be something his players look forward to participating in every day at practice and in games.
“I am happy to be coaching these girls,” he said. “They are smart kids. I want them to have fun. I also want them to improve on their lacrosse IQ. The wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Newell said he is surrounded by outstanding assistant coaches, all of whom have played the sport at the collegiate level. Those assistants are: JV coach Katie Ross (Christopher Newport University), Liz Case (George Mason University), Kristy Zeigler (Virginia Tech), goalie coach Drew Morgan (Queens’s College in North Carolina) and Becki Melfi (State University of New York), also a goalie coach.
Newell is excited about the potential of his team both this season and in the years ahead.
“I’m looking forward to building the program and being here a number of years,” he said.
Centreville, which was victorious in pre-season games over Thomas Jefferson, 15-12, and Yorktown, 10-4, will be in action at home this Friday night at 7:15 against Falls Church High. The team will practice over next week’s spring break before taking the field again against visiting Herndon on Friday, April 9.