by Tom Utescher
Late-winter weather problems have disrupted the plans of many schools that are trying to get their spring sports underway, and the girls lacrosse team at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is no exception. After a few postponements and cancellations, the Blue Devils finally got to play against outside competition in a scrimmage at Abington High School last Monday.
“We were working all winter, with workouts two times a week and some games,” related coach Allison Thomas. “The when the outdoor season started we couldn’t get outdoors and we had limited gym space. That kind of set us back.”
SCH graduated only one player, Winter Chernak, from last year’s squad, which finished 10-8 overall and came in fourth in the seven-team Inter-Ac League, with a mark of 6-6. However, the program has lost some younger athletes, as well. Current senior Allie Billick, whose primary sport is field hockey, chose to forego her senior season in lacrosse, and junior Megan McCool, a blue chip soccer player, also laid down her stick to focus on her main game.
Junior Remi Fillippini, who recently made a verbal commitment to play field hockey for Colgate University, returned to the lacrosse squad but suffered a season-ending injury before the team’s first scrimmage. Senior defender Sarah Mathes is just finishing a course of rehab following ACL surgery, and should be able to return to the team shortly.
Among the other four seniors are midfielders Sinead Brierley, who has signed with St. Joseph’s University, and Maddy Aslansan, who will play for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Their classmates on the squad are attackers Avery Nunn and Carlin Rode.
Junior Mikaela Watson, who already made a verbal commitment to Stanford University last year, brings impressive stature and strength to the midfield. Fellow 11th-grader Natalie Schwartz has also been a varsity regular since her freshman year, and is a midfielder with strong shooting skills. Lily Glendinning and Lexi Prochniak return for the attack and defense units, respectively, and they are joined this spring by yet another junior, attacker Maggie King.
Four sophomores on the roster were all members of the varsity team as freshmen. Middie Mason Rode has just made a verbal commitment to Bucknell University, and her 10th-grade classmates on the team are Taylor Ferry, Morgan Fitton-Zellers, and Gabby Dunning.
In goal, junior Elsa Rall has seen varsity action since she was an eighth-grader, and her classmate Frankie Reitmeyer, the Blue Devils’ starting field hockey keeper, is adapting her goaltending skills to lacrosse. The third netminder in the mix is also an 11th-grader; as a transfer student, Caroline Roncalli can play in non-league contests this season, but not in Inter-Ac games.
Coach Thomas, a member of the lower school faculty at SCH, is entering her third season piloting the Blue Devils. Coaching along with her last year was former University of Maryland All-American Alex Kahoe, who has now taken over the women’s program at St. Joseph’s University.
Liz Martin, who was an assistant coach at St. Joseph’s for the past two seasons, has now come over from City Line to help mentor the SCH girls. Martin is a former Temple University All-American and was head coach at the University of Delaware from 2005 to 2010. Running the JV team and helping out with the varsity is Sarah Studdiford, a former Springfield High School and East Stroudsburg University (’14) player whose four older sisters all played at the old Springside School.
Because of the Blue Devils’ attrition and injury problems, Thomas noted, “We have limited subs, but the players we have are very solid. We have a lot of middies this year. We’ll see if they end up being more offensive or defensively oriented, but they definitely can play both ends of the field, as well as in transition.
“Our low attackers aren’t as experienced, so we’re working on that,” she went on. “In the meantime, we definitely have midfielders who can score.”