As the final whistle blew, the girls of junior varsity lacrosse charged through the rain, dog piling on top of sophomore goalie Rebecca Oeffner. The girls laughed with triumph and relief as the rain poured harder and the dog pile grew bigger. They had just won the championship of the tournament after going 5-0 on April 2.
Three months earlier, when sophomore Peyton Barbeau laced up her cleats for tryouts, she wasn’t expecting the intensity of the team she was about to make. JV can oftentimes be stereotyped for all high school sports as the laid-back, less committed and less intense team. But, for girls’ lacrosse, that’s not the case. Their team chemistry and great coaching staff make practices an intense two hours.
A quick way to bond with teammates is running drills, according to junior Kate Dunlea, a player for both JV and Varsity. From start to finish players complain, but in that “glad we’re suffering together” way. Practices begin and end with conditioning and involve sprinting plays, stick and shooting drills and lots of running. Coaches were pushing the team to work hard for the upcoming tournament.
Saturday morning on April 1, the team met at Foo’s Frozen Custard in Ranch Mart to load into caravans for a three-hour road trip to Des Moines, Iowa, with hopes of winning the five game tournament. The three games on Saturday felt easier than their daily scrimmages. The opponents were inexperienced and didn’t have the same skill level East has. After dominating the first three games, the girls expected a sweep for the rest of the weekend.
During a break in the third game, sophomore Emma Kerwin told the team that she would be getting a puppy, only if she scored a goal. Each teammate was in on it and for the rest of the game, Kerwin was passed the ball at every possible chance. Eventually she scored the goal she needed, jumped and pointed at her dad while he wore a face of regret. The entire team chanted from the sidelines and from the field, “Puppy, puppy!”
The next day, three opposing teams that weren’t big enough to be their own teams combined to play East. Their skill level was much greater than the previous teams they had played, and East struggled to get into a rhythm. Losing at half, the girls trudged off the field for water and a pep talk. It was then that the coaches told the girls how and why they could still win. The difference between East and the opposing team was that they were like a family: they knew how each other played, better than the combined team of girls who had never met. After a talk that helped get their heads in the game, they won and moved on to the championship.
“We all had a moment of, ‘Wow, we just did that,’ because none of us expected to win that game,” team captain and junior Alyssa Vuillemin said.
The nerves were high before the championship game, but as the team usually copes, they calmed each other down with a dance-off that commenced between Barbeau and another player from the opposing team.
They play well with each other, priding themselves as an aggressive team and a threat to opponents, junior Martha Sniezek said. The team is not a joke, though they have no trouble making any.