Last year, Lenape girls’ lacrosse attacker Gabrielle Fornia had a freshman season to remember, scoring 70 goals to help Lenape to a state championship.
Now in her sophomore year, Fornia is topping the leaderboards in an entirely different category.
Fornia has developed into more than a goal scorer during her sophomore season, spending more time setting up plays from behind the net and feeding teammates for goals. As a result, Fornia is among the state leaders in assists with 55 and has helped Lenape to a 14–1 record at the cutoff date for playoff seeding.
Lenape head coach Jill McCarthy said developing Fornia into more of a playmaker was a focus this season. The team was hoping to develop her into a dual threat rather than just a pure goal scorer.
“She’s going to become more of a focus for other teams’ defenders,” McCarthy said. “She’s just got to keep becoming more dynamic.”
Fornia said scoring 70 goals as a freshman was a great achievement, but she entered the season wanting to set up more scoring opportunities for her teammates.
“This year, I really wanted to assist my teammates more,” she said. “I have a lot more assists than I did last year, and I think I really worked on that.”
Fornia makes her home for most of the game behind the net. Many of Lenape’s offensive plays are run through her. Fornia has learned to direct traffic and find open teammates in front of the net.
“A lot of plays start where I play,” Fornia said. “I feel like I need to lead the team back there.”
McCarthy said Fornia has greatly improved her passing this season. She praised Fornia’s ability to fit passes in tight windows.
“That’s a big point we worked with her in practice is the feeding and threading the needle,” McCarthy said.
Fornia believes she has learned a lot more about the game mentally this season. She talks about seeing the entire field and waiting for the perfect opportunity to set up a scoring chance.
“I’m just being patient with the ball and knowing when someone is open and when they’re not,” Fornia said.
Adding a large number of assists to Fornia’s goal output has helped push her over the 100-point milestone for the season. Her best game of the season came last Wednesday against Cherry Hill West, where Fornia tallied two goals and 11 assists in Lenape’s 20–7 win. The game put her at 52 goals and 57 assists for the year.
More important than the goals and assists, however, is Fornia’s development as a leader.
“Last year, she could sit in the shadows of our really big seniors,” McCarthy said. “This year, she couldn’t do that. She’s really grown as far as taking a leadership role out there.”
Fornia realizes the leadership role she’s being asked to take this year and has relished in it, learning to be more vocal on the field has given her the confidence to lead the team in the future.
“We’re losing a lot of seniors (next year) so I just want to be able to lead the team and go as far as we did my freshman and sophomore year,” Fornia said.