Last season, the Wando girls lacrosse team did almost everything right. The Warriors went undefeated (14-0) in the regular season and routed Bishop England 18-5 in the the 4A state playoff opener.
But, they fell short of keeping the success going. Wando was defeated in the Lower State championship, 17-16 in triple overtime, by No. 1 Fort Mill.
“Our expectations are always high as a team,” coach Jessica Stralkowski said. “And, thanks to the sport growing in the Lowcountry, in general, every year we have to set the bar a little higher and rise to the expectations of the growing teams around us.”
Charleston is a hotbed for lacrosse talent, and Stralkowski likes her team's chances this season with returning players, as well as promoted junior varsity players and transfers. “The level of competition will be great, and the games will be based on who comes to play,” she said. “Our overall goal as a team this year is that we continue to mature and gel into one of the Lowcountry teams competing for the Lower State title.”
Kendra Blackstock signed a scholarship to attend Columbia College next year and is one of the defensive standouts. Captain and senior Sarah Matteo is another strong player on the back line.
Jessie Bunting, Alyssa Smith, Brenna Walsh and Allie Bucknam solidify the offense. Senior goalie Sierra Armstrong, a first-team all-state selection, including the title as South Carolina 2012 Goalie of the Year, returns as a key piece to Wando's title hopes.
Stralkowski noted Bishop England and J.L. Mann as challenging opponents on the Warriors' schedule. Mann was the state runner-up last year and enters this season with the preseason No. 3 ranking.
Stralkowski added that Wando's depth and “broad range of talent” are its strengths, but admitted the group “needs play time to grow and mature together.” She's encouraged by the preseason the Warriors are having.
“This has been our focus since the beginning of the season,” she said, referring to blending all the players together. “We are starting to see the fruits of our efforts.”
The Bishop England girls lacrosse team will rely on an underclassmen-heavy roster this season.
Two seniors are outnumbered by an influx of freshmen and sophomores, including six underclassmen starters.
Last season, the Battling Bishops went 11-3 with losses only to Wando. This year, they'll look to maintain the high level of play, despite graduating all of their defensive players.
All-state selection Elaine Rosignol will be missed on the back line. Rosignol is playing for Piedmont College.
Caitlin Greenho looks to make up for her departure. Greenho, junior, was selected last year to the South Carolina team in the Schoolgirls Divison of the U.S. Lacrosse Women's Division National Tournament in New York.
The attack figures to be Bishop England's strength this season.
All-state player Elena Bosco returns after leading the team in scoring with 57 goals and 30 assists. Cora Petyak had 49 goals and 19 assists as a junior last year.
Goalkeeper Taylor Rice set the school record for saves in a quarterfinal playoff game against Wando with 27.
Coach Jeff Weiner noted key games against state finalist J.L. Mann in early March and home and away contests against Wando later that month.
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