Girls lacrosse wins Dogwood Classic, looks toward state

As the varsity girls lacrosse season progresses, the team is gearing their focus toward the culminating point of the season: the state playoffs. After losing in the state championship game last year, the team is working toward redeeming themselves every practice.

This season has been strong so far for the team who has an overall 12 wins and 3 losses, including a first place finish in the Dogwood Girls Lacrosse Classic. The tournament is known as the premier invitational girls lacrosse event in the Southeast. The tournament is hosted annually by Westminster and Lovett and fields teams from across the country. The girls clinched first place in the tourney with a 11-10 win over North Gwinnett.

“I think that it was good that we were able to win a close game,” said head coach Jay Watts. “It was good for us to have that feel of tension and nervousness and still come out successful at the end of the game.”

With teams coming from numerous states across the East, the team faces diverse competition.

“We knew that there was going to be stiff competition,” said junior Christina Dalton. “We tried really hard and played how we needed to play, and things turned out well.”

Coach Watts helped make girls lacrosse a varsity sport in 1999 and has been a coach ever since.  His coaching is one of the most substantial reasons for the  team’s success this year.

“[Watts] is really dedicated to the game and to us,” said senior captain Katie McGahan. “It’s great to have someone who will always be there when you need him.”

     On the downside, the team’s three losses were the toughest parts of the season.

   “In our game [against Cambridge High School] we were up by five, [but] we let it get away from us and ended losing by five in overtime,” said McGahan. “I know no one on our team ever wants to feel that again.”

   Although the team knows it has the talent to be state champs, often times they have underperformed in games.

     “Walking out knowing that you could have played better and sinking down to the opponent’s [skill] level is a little frustrating with all the potential we have,” said Dalton.

      Last year, the team suffered defeat in the state championship game, losing 13-16 to Kell High School. The memory of that defeat has served as a motivational point this year to return to the state championship game and win at that stage.

   “I know the girls are really excited to play [Kell] next week,” said Watts. “Our coaching staff is really excited to play [Kell] next week. The fact that they’ve had our number the last couple years just makes it a little more special.”

McGahan is very familiar with Kell because she has been on the team in their numerous games against Kell over the past few years.

“It’s hard losing to a team four times in a row to come back from that,” said McGahan. “I’m confident this year if we play our best we can beat them.”

The team faced Kell in an Area 2 matchup on April 20, a rematch of the past two state championship games.

   As the regular season winds down and the playoffs come into focus, the team’s goal is clear: overcoming the back-to-back defeats in the state championship game and capturing the state title.

“If we play to our abilities then I think that we’ll be right in the hunt for a state championship this year,” said Watts. “That is our number one goal.”

   The team knows that focus and hard work are the keys to what will set the foundation for them to be competitive late in the season. But most importantly, the team knows that they have to play their best against all competition and not just against stronger teams in order to grasp the state championship trophy.

  “We cannot take the lesser teams we play for granted,” said McGahan. “A big part of getting ourselves to the state championship is pushing ourselves [by ourselves] and not having to have other people or teams push us.”

But during the quest for the state championship, the players have not crumbled under the stress and continue to enjoy playing lacrosse with each other.

“Being able to joke around with my teammates and play a sport that I love is amazing,” said McGahan.

That fun helps the team persevere through the challenges of the season and overcome tough situations. They know that if they continue to have fun working hard and stay consistent against teams of all calibers, plastering another banner in Turner is certainly within reach.