Restoring the Linfield lacrosse program back into a regional contender is a multi-step process, a goal which second-year coach Sammy Smith believes is attainable through focusing on the essential fundamentals of passing, shooting, stick handling and defending.
Lacrosse is a budding sport in the Northwest high schools and attracting players with tangible game experience to fill out the roster remains a challenge. Orientation and integration of novice players can be time consuming, but with six additional matches on the schedule this spring, the opportunity for rookies to gain experience is ample.
The Wildcats are coming off a winless season in Smith’s maiden campaign in 2013 yet the mindset among players and coaches is upbeat and positive.
“We have players who have played together and the trust is getting better,” said Smith. “The team has a very positive attitude. They are working really hard to become a more cohesive team. Our returning players have been welcoming to the new players and freshman, getting them up to speed on everything they need to learn.”
The expanded 2014 roster includes nine returning letterwinners and eight first-year players. Among key veterans are seniors Shelby Duarte, Sierra Edgerly, Hana Gould and Nichole Thoens, and juniors Halee Helgerson, Rebecca Kropp, and Chas Tittle. Erika Phillipo returns to guard the goal for the Wildcats and Kelsey Dammarell helps anchor the defense.
Top newcomers include Madilyn Bechtel, Lizzy Carson and Molly Goldberg.
The schedule features home-and-home matchups with the Wildcats’ three Northwest rivals – Puget Sound, Pacific and first-year program George Fox – as well as a matchup against NCAA playoff qualifier Southwestern (Texas) and NCAA Division II affiliate Colorado-Mesa.