NORTH EASTHAM – There is a different feeling around the Nauset girls lacrosse team than there was at this time last spring. Even after posting an 0-12 record last season, the Warriors remain hopeful about what they can accomplish this year.
The optimism is tangible. The goals are clear.
“We’re hoping to make it to the [state] tournament,” longtime Nauset coach Heather Stevens said. “That’s something that we’ve always been involved in from about 2010 and on. Last year was the first year we didn’t go, so that was pretty disappointing obviously. We’re hoping to build back.”
One area last year’s team struggled was veteran leadership after a number of seniors decided not to play the final season of their careers for a number of reasons, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and fatigue related to the grind of the four-season schedule the state implemented for the 2020-21 high school sports slate.
Nauset will have plenty of experience this year. With five seniors and 10 juniors, there is no lack of upperclassmen who have been on the field for big-game moments. Even the program’s crop of 10 sophomores will enter this spring battle tested after receiving valuable playing time as freshmen.
“I’m really impressed with the sophomores,” Stevens said. “They’ve worked really hard. I put them in an uncomfortable position last year — half of them had literally never played before. They really had a love for the game and I’ve seen huge things from them. I’ve seen huge improvements. They look like they’re seniors sometimes, so I’m excited for that.”
For the seniors, the preseason experience has been a breath of fresh air — literally.
“There’s no masks, so it feels great,” said Brady Deschamps, a senior from Brewster.
“This is the first 100 percent normal season we’ve had since sophomore year for all sports,” added Julia Weiner, a senior from Harwich. “It’s exciting.”
While it seems there’s a connectivity flowing throughout the team, it’s especially strong among the group of seniors, who built a trust with each other during their first three years.
“I’ve played with the four of them since winter of freshmen year, so I’ve known them for a really long time,” said Allie Hull, a senior from Orleans. “I trust these girls with my life — they know what to do when you put the ball in their sticks.”
Stevens said she’s expecting big things from all five seniors. The coach noted Weiner returns as the team’s leading scorer from a year ago and that she’s expecting Emily Pearl will be another strong asset for the offense along with Hull, while Tarris Green will be a key contributor on defense.
“Tarris will be a good defender for us and Allie Hull plays mid and attack — she’s always a part of the mix, she’s always in there scrapping,” said Stevens, who added she’s excited to see Deschamps back after not playing last season.
Stevens praised the seniors for recruiting new girls to the team. The future is bright for the program, not only next year once the seniors leave but for the next several years.
“There’s 25 freshmen coming out,” Stevens said. “It’s going to take them a few years to get their experience, but I have a lot of faith in the upperclassmen and my sophomores have a lot of experience from last year.”
One area the Warriors will have some continuity is between the pipes, as junior goalies Alden Rogers and Savannah Still both return from a year ago.
The team is scheduled to meet Monomoy in a scrimmage Tuesday after The Chronicle’s deadline. The Warriors will host St. John Paul II in their season opener at 4 p.m. Friday in North Eastham.
While Stevens said she’s been happy with the way the players performed during tryouts, she added that she’s focused on elevating the team’s fitness ahead of the season opener.
“We’re really trying to work on fitness, and I’m already seeing improvements every single day with them,” she said. “We did a little scrimmage today and some of the younger girls could really hang, so that was positive and motivating for me to see that.”
The players are ready to get back into action. And after the struggles they experienced last spring, they are excited to make their mark, too.
“We’ve been preparing all year for this,” said senior Emily Pearl, an Orleans resident. “We’re ready for our comeback season.”
“There’s a lot of good girls this year, so we’re definitely in for a good season,” added Green, a senior from Brewster. “It feels really great to be back. Everyone has high energy right now.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com.