by Bob San
SUN PRESS Newspapers
Coming off a season in which they played in their first section final, the Maple Grove girls’ lacrosse team enters the 2014 campaign with high hopes.
Crimson coach Morgan Kingstedt lost nine of last year’s 10 starters to graduation but welcomes back a team that has a mix of veterans and young new players.
“We are a young squad with only a handful of seniors,” Kingstedt said. “We have only three seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores and five freshmen.”
But the Crimson have many talented players. Senior captains Brittany Throndson (attack), Helena Nguyen (midfield) and Mary Perron (attack) lead the way. Other top returners are junior defense Emily Naasz, Ritika Patel and Maggie Cowan.
The Crimson need to fill holes vacated by the graduated seniors and Kingstedt is confident the young players are up to the challenge. New players who are expected to contribute are freshman midfielder Paige Cassibo, junior defense Bailey Wendt freshman goalie Coco Francis and sophomore midfield Claire McLean. Kingstedt credits assistant coach Haley Corradi for developing new talent through her summer youth program.
“We have a great smattering of new defenders, attackers and midfielders. The younger players are coming in with better stick skills,” Kingstedt said. “We will be young, fast and extremely versatile.”
The Crimson are setting their goals high and making the program’s first state tournament is the No. 1 goal. Kingstedt said because the league has increased the number of sections from four to eight, the Crimson’s chances of making it to state has improved.
“There are more opportunities to get to state,” she said. “I think it’s very, very possible.”
To reach that elusive goal, the Crimson will need to work hard on team cohesion.
“We are working really hard at cohesion between our girls, because we have such interchangeable and talented athletes, more interchangeable than in years past,” Kingstedt said. “There isn’t necessary a really strong first string and weaker second string. Our “second string” girls are very similar in talent to our starters.”
Maple Grove opens the season Monday, April 21, at St. Louis Park.
Contact Bob San at email@example.com