The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Clearing challenges and building onwards

Varsity girls lacrosse team returns for another season with smaller roster
Emma Milner
Roma Bhanot (9) leads the varsity girls lacrosse team’s cheer during a huddle after the first quarter. “The culture just seems really relaxed because of the players and the coaches,” Roma said. “A lot of the players are new their freshman year, so I definitely got a lot of help from them, even before the season started.

After clinching first place in the WBAL Alpine League last season with an undefeated 12-0 record, the varsity girls lacrosse team boasts a formidable reputation. This season, their hopes soar high as they set their sights on reclaiming the championship title. But with seven fewer players, the team must adapt. 

The team counts a smaller roster with the departure of alumni Kyra Hawk (‘23), who now plays Division III lacrosse at Smith College, and Katelyn Abellera (‘23). An additional two new players this year brought the total to 13 players on the team. But this number is only one more than the standard requirement for a lacrosse team, and so each girl inevitably spends more time on the field during games, unable to switch off for a break as often as their opponents. 

As the sport involves constant running across the 110-yard-long field, having more team members would improve the team’s stamina. Anika Mantriprigada (12) highlights the benefits of a larger roster. 

“By having a lot of players, even if they’re inexperienced, we’re able to make those substitutions when people get tired,” Anika said. “And that helps us keep our team’s momentum throughout the entire game.”

Captain Chayce Milheim (11) acknowledges the team’s current challenge of having just barely enough players for a team as they maneuver through their league matches. She nevertheless maintains an optimistic outlook about having a smaller team. 

“Even though that’s going to be a challenge this year, through challenges, our team bonds a lot better,” Chayce said. “There’s no way you can get into arguments if you’re all struggling through the same thing.”

Much of the team’s roster began their lacrosse journeys at the Harker middle or upper school, without outside experience. But from the beginning of the season, the team has always fostered an inclusive environment, regardless of skill level or past involvement. By supporting and encouraging each other, the team allows new players to smoothly integrate into the sport.

Kyra Hawk (’23) strategizes with her teammates during a timeout last year. She was varsity girls lacrosse team captain her senior year and committed to play lacrosse at Smith College. Kevin Zhang

The main challenge for beginners when transitioning to playing the sport competitively lies in learning the specific rules of the game. Chayce, who has played club lacrosse for the past six years, explains how the more seasoned players help newcomers familiarize themselves with these rules. When referring to certain parts of the field, she recalls the fun-spirited analogies that the team personalized throughout the years. 

“I feel like we make it pretty fun with how we teach the game,” Chayce said. “We just make comparisons: by the goal, we call it ‘the pizza’ because it’s shaped like a pizza and that just helps simplify it for people.” 

Lacrosse feeds off of collective teamwork during games, giving even beginners the chance to aid key plays, such as Harker’s defensive play which requires the entire team’s participation. In this play, the team follows a marking strategy where they pinpoint players of the opposing team to defend, mirroring their sticks to their opponents to block their passes and attempts for the goal. 

Anika appreciates the inviting nature of the sport as she joined during the program’s launch in middle school, and continued to see the team’s positive spirit as she moved into a leadership role this year. 

“In lacrosse, once you learn the basics, you know enough to have a meaningful contribution to the team,” Anika said. “I also like that all of the team members were super supportive. Everyone always uplifts each other, giving constructive criticism or congratulating people on good plays.”

Similarly, frosh Roma Bhanot, who joined lacrosse for the first time this season, immediately felt welcomed by the group’s friendly environment. 

Head coach Lauren Brown attempts to block a pass during a lacrosse team practice. She stepped in during a practice drill acting as a defender. (Kevin Zhang)

“The culture just seems really relaxed because of the players and the coaches,” Roma said. “A lot of the players are new their freshman year, so I definitely got a lot of help from them, even before the season started. They’d encourage me and help me out with tips.” 

Although the legacy of last year’s high-achieving season set high standards that may be challenging to reproduce, Chayce believes in the potential of the team to succeed, citing the young team’s keenness to build atop their blank slate. 

“Everyone on the team is so happy and eager to learn and put all their effort in,” Chayce said. “And when everyone on the team is doing that, you’re bound to do pretty well. Even with our roster, I think we can do pretty well this year.” 

Head coach Lauren Brown shares her excitement for the team’s reunion, as well as her eagerness for the camaraderie between the more experienced and novice members going forward in the season. 

“It’s just good to have the girls back together and have two new players,” Brown said. “I’m seeing the girls help them understand the game a little bit more and just everyone having more dedication all around.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Emma Milner
Emma Milner, Co-Sports Editor
Emma Milner (11) is the co-sports editor for Harker Aquila and the Winged Post, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Emma wishes to maintain strong sports coverage and continue improving her photography skills. Outside of school, she plays badminton competitively, and in her free time, she likes to watch Suits.
Tiffany Zhu
Tiffany Zhu, Reporter
Tiffany Zhu (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Tiffany hopes to meet more members of the Harker and journalism community and share topics she's passionate about with them. In her free time, she enjoys baking and watching all genres of movies.
Kevin Zhang
Kevin Zhang, Aquila Co-Managing Editor
Kevin Zhang (12) is a co-managing editor for Harker Aquila, and this is his third year on staff. This year, Kevin hopes to expand the scope of sports content and collaborate with more staff members in journalism. In his free time, Kevin enjoys playing basketball, pursuing photography and drawing in pencil (he finds shading particularly satisfying).

Comments (0)

All Harker Aquila Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *