The Pine Creek girls’ lacrosse team has been nothing if not consistent. In each of the last three seasons, the Eagles made it to the playoffs, only to bow out in their first playoff game after earning a first-round bye.
This year’s Eagles are well aware of recent history. In particular, the seven seniors on the team are ready to craft a different ending.
“We have to leave everything on the field, each time is the last time,” said senior defender/midfielder Sienna Colonese. “I think we’ve learned and gotten better going out (in the playoffs), learned our weaknesses and what we need to work on.”
The senior group, one of the largest in program history, has brought increased energy and renewed dedication to early season practices.
In addition to more experience on the field, having seven seniors allows the team to spread leadership around.
“We have lots of different types of leaders,” Colonese said, “so we can reach people in different ways. We can form and mold teammates in different ways.”
Senior midfielder Brittney White thinks the team’s camaraderie will be critical; a trust she says is better than ever and should lead to improvements on and off the field.
“We want it really bad, we’ve been looking forward to this for so long,” White said.
“We have to want it a little more.”
Coach Roger Wallace, who enters his 20th season, has been pleased with the team’s offseason work and desire to improve.
For Wallace, the potential of the team will depend on the players – what they learn from each game and how the young players improve through the year.
Sophomore Amelia Carlile, for example, now relishes her position as starting goalie.
“I knew I had to step up this year, to be at the level I needed to be to start this season off,” Carlile said.
“We have a strong lineup, but we also have to keep teams out.”
For Carlile, teamwork and communication are key this year, as well as pairing the relentless mindset of the seniors with a “smarter not harder” approach.
Wallace noted that his team is playing a tougher schedule this season before they arrive in the playoffs – Pine Creek fell 16-3 in the opener Thursday against Denver East, a state semifinalist a year ago.
Last year was the first time the Eagles had gone undefeated in conference play, winning the title outright. Repeating that, and advancing to the second round, will take some doing.
“We have to get to back to where we finished last year,” said Wallace. “Other teams are gunning for us, there will be some hurdles.”
If they clear enough through the spring, they’ll have one final hurdle waiting come May.
“It’s been rough, to not win a playoff game,” White said. “We feel that, and want to finish it this year.”