A team-by-team look at the local girls lacrosse season, which begins next week. Schools are listed in alphabetical order with last season's records in parentheses.
Absegami (5-13) has one of its most experienced teams in the program's five-year history with seven returning starters. The defense is led by seniors Erica Hernandez and Donny Patel. Coach Judy Callahan expects a lot of the Braves' scoring to come from senior attack Christina Skalitzky and junior attack Nicole Goodwin.
Egg Harbor Township (12-5) graduated some key players and will rebuild this year, coach Jonelle Scardino said, though she added that the Eagles should be more competitive as the season goes on. Their strength should be their midfield, with returning starters Mackenzie Meyer, Morgan Snodgrass, Morgan Higgins and Courtney Eble, all juniors. Juniors Courtney Richard and Amanda Pagano return on defense, and senior Naheel Naber is back in goal.
Lower Cape May Regional (7-11) lost just two starters from last year and will replace them with a talented freshman class. Senior attack Lindsay Lare, who scored 78 goals last season and was a first-team Press All-Star, has committed to the University of New Haven. The Caper Tigers also will be led by seniors Nicole Sangillo (midfield), Victoria Mann (attack/midfield) and Brett Barnes (defense). Lower will have a new goalie after the graduation of Gab Adams - either senior Nicole Duveroux or sophomore Emily Whittle. Coach Nikki Wright said her squad is talented but must play together as a team.
Mainland Regional (11-7) has most of its core coming back, and the Mustangs are expected to contend for the CAL title. Junior attack Riley Dolan scored 50 goals last season and was a first-team Press All-Star. Senior midfielder Anna Gordon and junior attack Kailey Stangle were second-team Press All-Stars. Gordon has committed to play for La Salle University. Senior defenders Taylor Klever and Miranda Lamey plan to play for Neumann University and Salisbury University, respectively. Senior Brianna Gerstel returns in goal.
Middle Township (11-6) has a veteran team led by senior attack Victoria Dever (77 career goals) and junior center Maddie Anagnou (91). Coach Jacqueline Scuderi said she has high hopes for sophomore goalie Courtney Laing, who got some playing time last year and worked hard in the offseason. The Panthers have a veteran defense in front of Laing, led by seniors Alex Walsh, Marissa Caminos and Kelsey Reardon. The Panthers lost some close games last season, and Scuderi said the goal is turn those into wins.
Millville (14-6) has a potent offense led by juniors Corrine Etter (74 goals last season) and Megan Hoffman (52), who work well together. Wings Jamie Parent, a senior, and Kiara Brown, a junior, both of whom also play soccer, are fast and aggressive. Senior Shana Omahne is expected to start after scoring 50 goals at the junior-varsity level last season. The defense is inexperienced in front of new starting goalie Julia Limbeck. Sophomore Rebekah Clements and freshman Caylin Thompson are expected to start on defense. Millville graduated six starters, but coach Claudia McCarthy said she hopes to contend with Mainland and Ocean City in the CAL and win at least one game in the state tournament.
Oakcrest (1-17) is in its fourth year and its first with players from the Hamilton Township feeder program. On defense, freshman Jamie Hutter joins returning juniors Cassie Mancella and Alex Imperatore, and seniors Jessica Johnson and Shianne Stokes. At attack, seniors Taylor Burns and BryAnna Swanson will be joined by returning sophomore Courtney DeFalco as well as freshmen Alexis Sutley and Amanda Burns. Coach Rachael DiCicco said the team hopes to take significant steps this season.
Ocean City (15-4) has several key players back as it tries to defend its CAL title. Senior attack Tess Solazzo, the reigning Press Player of the Year, had 84 goals and 50 assists last year and is headed to Ohio State. The Red Raiders also bring back senior Casey Hanna, who had 65 goals, and her sister Kelly Hanna, who had 31 as a freshman. The defense features senior Sara Dalsey, a first-team Press All-Star with 46 ground balls last season. But Ocean City will need to replace goalie Ann Unsworth, who graduated.
Our Lady of Mercy Academy (7-11) features senior attack Cait Covella, who was a second-team Press All-Star last season and could be one of South Jersey's best players, coach Tom McCarville said. Seniors Rachel DeGalbo, Marissa Casella and Sarah Duffy will help shoulder the scoring load. Senior Anne Brewer and junior Jacquline Battaglia lead the defense, but both can score also. Senior goalie Mallory Hansen got some playing time last season when then-starter Gina Simila was out with a concussion, and Hansen will take over full time this year.
Barnegat (13-4) will try for its fourth consecutive Shore Conference B South title. The Bengals bring back seniors Bethany Cunningham (midfield), Megan Quinn (defense) and Courtney Guiliano (goalie), along with talented junior and sophomore classes.
Lacey Township (9-9) brings back eight starters, led by senior center Lauren Salemme. The Lions are young, too - returning starters Brittany Biele (midfield), Holly Brewster (midfield), Rebecca Martin (midfield), Lauren Miklosey (goalie) and Morgan Wohlers (defense) are all juniors. Senior starters Maura Weaver (midfield) and Rachelbeth Brignalo (defense) also return.
Pinelands Regional (0-12) has a young team, but its strength will be at midfield with seniors Ali Herbert and Janet George and junior Kelly Burns. Herbert, who has committed to Chestnut Hill College, scored 61 goals last season and has 75 for her career. Freshman Sydney Dietrick takes over in goal.
Southern Regional (7-8) graduated some key players from its attack. But the team has plenty of young talent, including sophomore center Morgan Vonschmidt, a returning starter who coach Laurette Ibe said can play any position on the field. Junior wing Marina Felmly and senior center Arielle Galgano will help shoulder the scoring load. The defense will be led by senior Taylor Arcieri and junior Victoria Mancini.
Games to watch
April 6-Lenape at Ocean City
April 9-Barnegat at Lacey Township
April 20-Ocean City at Millville
April 24-Ocean City at Mainland Regional
April 24-Southern Regional at Barnegat
April 30-Millville at Ocean City
May 9-Egg Harbor Township at Mainland Regional
May 13-Mainland Regional at Ocean City
May 24-Middle Township at Mainland Regional