By SHASHWATH THYAGARAJAN, junior (Originally published April 2022)
THE JP GIRLS LACROSSE team is looking forward to showcasing their talents this season and proving their doubters wrong. With an accomplished roster of both veterans and newcomers, the Hawks are prepared to fight for each victory until the very end.
The team is looking to improve from the previous season, when they finished with a 2-10 record, even though the majority of the games were close until the end. There were some shining points in the previous season, with the Hawks beating Sayreville and St. Thomas Aquinas 14-6 and 11-5, respectively. The Hawks are striving to improve their fundamentals and finish each game strong.
To prepare for each game, both coaches and players always aim to encourage and motivate each other, fostering a positive environment. They also use practices to focus on individual and team skills, as well as to set goals for the upcoming game. A typical practice begins with basic throwing and catching drills to warm up. The coaches create a “game plan” by putting extra emphasis on possible weaknesses that were exposed from previous games. After working through specific improvements the team goes through the more skill-oriented drills, including shooting and ground balls. To build team chemistry and
show off each player’s competitiveness, the Hawks always end practice on a high note by playing a competitive game of some sort.
With a committed and improving roster, Coach Rusk feels that the team’s integrity is commendable. As a senior-heavy team, she calls upon the underclassmen to step up and “rise to the occasion.” This would help them to build relationships with the rest of the team and develop a dynamic that
allows them to persevere through difficult matches and end up victorious. Additionally, by having the underclassmen take on more responsibility, the team is more closely knit and can truly trust and depend on each other in pressurized situations. At the same time, Coach Rusk wants to acknowledge
the leadership that each of the seniors has shown since the start of the season. With 11 seniors on the team, the coaches have chosen to implement a rotating captain system: the senior who has shown leadership and commitment during the last game and/or practice is awarded the captain’s band until the following game. In just the first two games alone this season, seniors Karly Wittenbauer, Leah Whitney, Srijani Sarkar, Alina Azad, and Mahi Vakil have shown excellence in contributing to the team’s goals and points.
The Hawks aim to translate their work from each practice onto the field during games. Their goal is to always play hard and stay competitive no matter the situation. They have maintained this objective thus far, playing close matches against their first two opponents of the season, Union Catholic and St. Thomas Aquinas. The Hawks look forward to playing cross-town rival, Edison High School, an exciting game that never fails to rile up the players. The girls believe that in keeping up their energy and by remaining consistent, they can contend for the White Division championship: a prestigious, yet definitely attainable, goal for the Hawks.