By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (April 28, 2016) — The biggest blow for most reigning state championship teams is losing their senior classes due to graduations. The Stone Bridge High School girls lacrosse team’s story is no different. After graduating seven seniors in 2015, the reigning VHSL 5A state champion Bulldogs were poised to return just seven girls in 2016 while trying to compete at a high level.
Those seven returners, plus their thirteen new varsity teammates, just finished Stone Bridge’s regular season group play at 3-1 thanks to a solid second half and 12-5 win over Tuscarora High School in Leesburg on April 27.
“We expect to finish second in the conference which is important. One of our weakest games this season was Potomac Falls. We just came out flat, and they executed better than we did,” Stone Bridge head coach Monika Guerrero said. “We’re looking forward to the playoffs, but we have to clean it up. There’s so much talent, we just have to realize it and put all the pieces together.”
The Bulldogs’ one Potomac Group loss came against reigning VHSL 5A state runner up Potomac Falls on March 29, but Stone Bridge knows what it has to do to avenge the loss and make another deep postseason run in 2016.
“Potomac Falls is definitely our biggest competition,” Stone Bridge junior midfielder Maria Keener said. “We have to keep that in mind and keep working hard every day.”
Keener certainly worked hard in the win over the Huskies, scoring two goals late in the first half to give Stone Bridge a 6-4 halftime lead before scoring the first goal of the second half to keep control of the Bulldogs’ momentum.
“Maria Keener is unstoppable. We’re a finesse team more, but Maria doesn’t need that; she can just go,” Guerrero said. “When she recognizes we really have to lay it on, she can just go in there and score. That’s what your best players can do. She’s got that lacrosse IQ and can just do it.”
A 2015 all-state performer, Keener is trying her best to pass her IQ on to Stone Bridge’s four incoming freshmen – Annie Ellis, Malley McFarlane, Cecilia McGrath and Alexa Poulin – and Bulldog sophomore soccer star Amy Thompson – who is playing lacrosse for the first time since elementary school.
“We’re very lucky to have Amy Thompson who’s just an athlete,” Guerrero said. “She never seems to get tired. It’s crazy how good she is.”
Thompson — who turned in her Bulldog soccer cleats for a pair of Stone Bridge lacrosse cleats after leading the Bulldogs soccer team to a VHSL 5A state championship game appearance in 2015 — noted that her soccer training has helped prepare her for lacrosse.
“I play soccer which really helps me with the running part and the endurance,” Thompson said. “Coach Guerrero and coach Clarke are great coaches, and they taught me a lot. Also, my teammates really helped me learn quickly.”
1H 24:25 T Sonali Dawar
1H 21:44 SB Amy Thompson
1H 17:51 T Layne Hubble
1H 15:50 SB Maria Keener
1H 11:26 SB Annie Ellis
1H 8:16 SB Alexa Poulin
1H 4:50 T Layne Hubble
1H 1:41 T Madison Chestnut
1H 1:29 SB Maria Keener
1H 1:05 SB Maria Keener
2H 24:01 SB Maria Keener
2H 16:23 SB Morgan Salvato
2H 15:57 SB Katie Bokulic
2H 9:30 SB Amy Thompson
2H 3:27 SB Amy Thompson
2H 3:05 T Sonali Dawar
2H 0:12 SB Amy Thompson