by Tom Utescher
After earlier plans were scuttled by snow in the middle of the month, the girls’ lacrosse team at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy had its first trial run under new head coach Kasey Mock last Wednesday afternoon, when the Blue Devils hosted a scrimmage against Springfield High School.
After SCH led 10-4 at halftime, the visiting Spartans closed within four goals (13-9) in the middle of the second half, then the Blue Devils pulled away again to post a 17-9 final score.
“Our attack played well off of each other, without having anything set up,” Coach Mock noted. “We’re a young team, so we have a lot of room for growth.”
A native of Pottstown, Pa., Mock played collegiate lacrosse at Syracuse University, helping the Orange win a Big East Conference championship and then become runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference when the school changed affiliations before her senior year.
At the end of her senior season in 2014, Mock was named an IWLCA Second Team All-American. She was an All-Academic Team all-conference pick throughout her college career.
Among the assistant coaches is Carly Eisenbrandt, who filled the same role with the SCH in 2016 and provides a sense of continuity for the Blue Devil players. New staffer Monica O’Brien is working with the goalies, while the JV is being piloted by Mock’s older sister Kierstyn (who played at Kutztown University) and Jami Dansingberg, who has coached soccer at Germantown Friends.
The Blue Devils graduated a strong senior class from last year’s team, and among those seven players were Mikaela Watson, the 2016 Inter-Ac League MVP who is now at Stanford, five-year varsity goalie Elsa Rall (William and Mary), and four-year varsity attacker Natalie Schwartz.
The senior tri-captains for the Blue Devils this year are Mason Rode, who committed to Bucknell University several years ago, Morgan Fitton-Zellers, who will play for Franklin & Marshall, and Taylor Ferry, a three-sport athlete who is still sorting out her college options.
“I lean on those three captains a lot,” Coach Mock said. “They’re great leaders on and off the field, which is really important.”
Unfortunately, another senior, Gabby Dunning, has had shoulder surgery that will keep her out of action this spring. A new addition is fellow 12th-grader Destini Curry, who has a lot of experience as a soccer goalie and now will be called upon to stop a much smaller ball. Sophomore Kylie Quinn, a field player for the Blue Devils’ soccer team last fall, is also learning the ropes in the goal cage.
“They’re both working very hard,” said Mock. “They’re pushing each other to get better and we’re kind of tag-teaming them in goal right now.”
The initial varsity roster lists three juniors, Catherine Cooney and Grace Rorke (both varsity veterans), and Grace Yang. Quinn and Lindsey Schwartz are the newcomers among the sophomores, while Kianah Watson (Mikaela’s sister), Riley Redpath, Savannah Sweitzer, and Catie Brook all saw varsity action last year.
Four freshmen have made the top squad at this early stage: Rorke’s sister Abbie, Dakota Carter, Maggie Pearson, and Caden Traversari.
In the team’s first scrimmage last Wednesday, Rode rammed in a total of nine goals, while Ferry finished with four goals and Redpath added three. The other goal was supplied by Sweitzer, who on this cold and blustery afternoon earned the Ironwoman Award for being the only athlete on the field to play the entire game in short sleeves with no tights.
“We’ve already seen a lot of improvement from when we first started practice,” Mock remarked.
For Spring Break, the Devils will take a jaunt to the Baltimore area, where they are scheduled to play two matches and also take in a college game at Loyola University.