In its young existence the Hopedale girl’s lacrosse team has never had the opportunity to advance into the State Tournament. Last spring the Blue Raiders were only able to secure four wins during the regular season, where they were once again denied entrance into the tournament.
This year Hopedale has brought in a new coach and the girls seemed to have taken to her approach. Shauna Roberts, a Maine resident who played lacrosse at the University of Southern Maine, had made the move south and now controls the reigns of the girl’s lacrosse team.
“It makes a difference having a lacrosse coach instead of a coach who knew field hockey and from what I’ve heard the team has never really had the same coach consistently,” the new coach said. “I came in with a much stricter attitude and the team adapted to my business approach. We’ll find time for fun later on, right now we’re looking for a balance between the two.”
Thus far the Hopedale girls have bought into their new coach’s philosophy as the Blue Raiders jumped out to a 4-2 start at the time of this writing. The four wins already recorded by Hopedale equals all of last year’s win total.
Looking to keep the winning going the Blue Raiders will be led by its four senior captains: defenders Cassidy Adams and Catherine Hodgens; attacker Hayley Carron and midfielder Riley Noyes. While Carron is listed as an attacker, she is a very versatile athlete that can be pout just about anywhere on the field.
“I can put Hayley basically anywhere on the field and she kills it,” Robert said. “At this time she is our only consistent scorer with at least one goal a game.”
The new coach choose her captains by position, giving the team a voice in all areas of the field. Robert is also looking to her captains in keeping the other girls in check and in line to what they are doing on the field.
“Since they have been a part of the program a lot more than I have I’m letting them take the reins on the field,” Robert said. “They’ve done a good job so far and have even shown me some things that have worked for them in the past; so far they haven’t let me down.”
In order to continue their early season success the Blue Raiders are going to have to stay consistent throughout. Through the first handful of games it has been the midfielders that have been the most consistent with 5 or 6 different athletes scoring each game.
“Having multiple goal scorer each game is good in a sense,” the coach said. “Other teams cannot really scout us to the point of coming in and shutting down one player.”
While the midfielders, who are very young and have been Hopedale’s most consistent goal scorers it is the defense that is the heart and soul of the team. Four very talented and loud seniors patrolling the backfield while taking command of the field for the Blue Raiders.
Senior Avery DeRagon playing in her first full season for Hopedale guards the net. Last spring, this year’s senior net minder was primarily a field player that saw about five starts in net. Thus far DeRagon has played superb through the first six games.
With DeRagon expecting to get the bulk of the work in the net this year, Hopedale has an eighth grade in the wings starting for the junior varsity squad.
“She’s going to be a great one if she sticks to it and by being so young when she inherits the position we should be in good shape for many years,” Robert said. “Unfortunately she is young and playing this position takes a lot of mental ability. Occasionally she gets frustrated with her performance and lets it get to her. She’ll mature as she learns more and should eventually be an all-star caliber player.
Coming into the season a couple of things Robert really wanted to focus on was fitness and stick skills.
“Stick skills are very important in this game, if you don’t have the proper stick skills you really can’t do too much on the field,” the coach said. “Going into specific games I’m going with ignorance is bliss. I’m not focusing on the other teams, just mine and what we can accomplish.”
Getting off on the right foot has given the Blue Raiders confidence and as that confidence continues to grow so will their win total and hopefully a berth in the State Tournament.