Despite only having two seniors on the roster, the Bulldawgs return a lot of young and talented sophomore and junior players from last year’s 15-win varsity team.
Haddonfield Memorial High School girls lacrosse may be one of the younger teams in its conference this season.
It also may be one of the most talented teams.
The Bulldawgs enter the season with only two seniors on the roster. However, the team returns a slew of talented forwards and midfielders and expects to be a contender this season in the Olympic Conference National Division.
“I don’t think we have to go back to the basics,” head coach Jessica Blake said. “The girls, even though they’re young, they’re coming in knowing the game very well.”
The Bulldawgs are especially young on defense. Blake said the plan will be for Haddonfield to move some of its midfielders to defense early in the year to help acclimate some of the younger players to the varsity level.
Senior Meghan Smart expects to be one of those players who will need to step up more on defense this year. Smart said the defense plans on playing aggressive and learning on the fly early in the season.
“It’s just playing our game, being aggressive and not being afraid to risk and go for the double team, even if it may not have been the right moment,” Smart said.
The Bulldawgs do have a stellar goalkeeper returning in sophomore Megan Maynes. Maynes started in net as a freshman for the Bulldawgs and is one of five 2016 All-Olympic Conference players returning for Haddonfield.
“She works very hard,” Blake said. “She works very hard outside of practice, so I think she’ll be more confident this year.”
One area where Haddonfield should be strong is offensively. First-team All-Olympic Conference players Smart, senior Katie Pileggi, junior Jamie McCormick and sophomore Ashley Campo combined to score 170 goals for the Bulldawgs last season.
“Goals are going to come,” Blake said. “I’m not worried about the goals. There’s a lot of girls here that can score.”
“It’s really awesome to have a full roster of talented girls,” Smart said. “We get to push each other in practice a little harder and make each other a little better each day.”
Smart and Pileggi don’t feel too pressured as the only seniors. Pileggi said leadership roles are earned, and she expects some underclassmen to step up.
“No matter if you’re a senior, junior, sophomore or freshman, you have to earn your spot,” Pileggi said. “You have to earn being a leader.”
“I feel like seniors always want to be the leaders,” Smart added. “You’re always looked up to by the underclassmen. But I feel like there’s so many sophomores and juniors that are stepping up as well, being leaders as well, which is really helping our program come together.”
Blake said Smart and Pileggi have been leaders for the Bulldawgs in past seasons and expects them to continue in that role this year.
“Meghan and Katie were kind of leaders last year on and off the field,” Blake said. “So I think it’s just going to be natural leadership and they’re going to fall in line.”
Despite having a young team, Smart and Pileggi both feel Haddonfield has the ability to go deep into the postseason. Last year, the Bulldawgs finished 15–6 and advanced to the South Jersey Group II semifinals.
“We’re young, but we have a lot of heart,” Smart said.