Woodstock Academy builds interest in girls' lacrosse
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Mon., Apr. 15, 2013
For the first time in its short history, the Woodstock Academy girls’ lacrosse team is fielding both a varsity and a junior varsity squad. Nineteen freshmen came out for the team this year, and head coach Carl Asikainen hopes it's a sign of growing interest in the sport in northeastern Connecticut. The more interest, the more students will come out for the team, he said. And with a widening interest, the more chance there is that schools other than Woodstock will be able to field full girls’ lacrosse teams. As it is, the Centaurs travel an average of 75 minutes to their matches. Their closest competitor is NFA in Norwich.
The one advantage is the time the bus rides affords Asikainen to plan strategy. “I talk with the girls about what we want to do and how we need to do it on the bus,” he said.
The Centaurs won a game this season against Wheeler, but went on to lose to Waterford, Bacon Academy and NFA. “Out of 84 varsity girls’ sports in the state, Woodstock comes in at 71. We're down the list,” Asikainen said. “No one in the region we play is ranked below us.” Still, the team’s record for the season so far is already ahead of last year's.
It's not an easy spot for the Centaurs to be in, but Asikainen has been relying on his players to build support and skills from within. Six seniors lead the team. He calls captains Danielle Nowak, Molly Thompson and Maryanna Leonard great leaders with fantastic skills and athleticism. “They take the reins whether in practice or in games,” Asikainen said.
The coach said senior Elizabeth Navarro is a skilled forward, and senior midfielders Katie Houlihan and Mikayla Musumeci provide crucial strength with their stamina, as well as their ability to run and distribute passes. “They all play attack,” Asikainen said. “All my seniors play almost every second of every game. They need to be on the field because of their skills.”
Stand-out sophomores Taylor Littell and Elizabeth Redfield provide the Centaurs with options on offense and defense. “They're athletic, they play multiple positions and they're flexible,” said Asikainen.
Sophomore Makela Sheldon had 18 shots on net in the last game, and is giving Woodstock strong performances in goal. Asikainen called her a leader with a good attitude. “Her play has been fantastic,” he said.
The Centaurs are working a lacrosse clinic at Pomfret School every Friday for the rest of the season. It will give the girls a chance to share their skills with students in grades two through seven. If it turns into a feeder program of sorts, Asikainen would certainly welcome that development.