Thursday March 27, 2014 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
RAIDERS SNIPER — Chelsea Jackson returns for Eden after scoring 39 goals last season as a junior. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
The southtowns have become a breeding ground for lacrosse talent, especially on the girls side. First, Hamburg, then Frontier and Lake Shore have become powers in the sport. Could Eden be next?
The Raiders have shown marked improvement over the past few seasons and look ready to make a further move upward with offensive talents like seniors Molly Neureuter and Chelsea Jackson leading the way.
“This could be a breakout year,” said third-year head coach Phil Archabald. “With Chelsea and Molly, we can play with anyone. Those two could be two of the best players on any team in Western New York. We’re looking for them to carry us.”
At this point, what may only be separating Eden from its fellow southtowns powers and getting to the top of Class C is confidence. Archabald is hoping an eye-popping late season run from the team, which included finishing with a program-best five wins and nearly knocking off Lake Shore in the sectional semifinals, will help get his team believing in itself.
“We’re definitely looking to improve, our interest is there, our level of play is definitely there,” said Neureuter, an All-Western New York First team selection. “We’re young but we’re really eager to play and win. I’m confident we’re going to get some more wins this year. The girls are making progress. We’re making good catches, good passes and our shot are looking a lot better.”
Archabald hopes an opening game with two time-defending Class B champion Hamburg, will help get the team off on the right track. Last year, the teams scrimmaged and Archabald said his side was shell-shocked by a supremely talented Hamburg. So, he’s trying again this season, this time with what he hopes is a more mentally prepared group.
“Our confidence could take a hit with that game, but what I’m hoping is that we take some of the confidence we built up last season and aren’t quite as timid this time around,” Archabald said. “We’re hoping we do things to build off of.”
Hamburg head coach Katy Ryan liked the idea of playing a competitive team from right down the road. “Phil has some great athletes and Molly Neureuter is a talented lacrosse player,” Ryan said. “Phil has done a great job with the program and it showed in last year’s semifinal. I am excited for a competitive game with a team not that far down the road.”
Although Archabald said he was disappointed that a number of seniors did not return to the team this season, he noted that this group is certainly more experienced than past teams.
He’ll use Neureuter all over the field as one of four key seniors back from last season. Neureuter, who plays club for the Lady Roc and over the winter, with the Frontier travel team, is getting Division I college looks after putting up 63 goals last season.
EDEN STAR — Molly Neureuter was an All-WNY First Team selection last year. Photo courtesy of David Eckhardt.
“She’s going to be a force all over the field and an asset anywhere we put her,” said Archabald, even joking that she could fill the team’s vacancy in goal and still have a very good season. “She’s been around the game so much.”
Jackson, who should be the team’s primary attacker, has the ability to take over a game, according to Archabald, as the varsity veteran comes off a breakout campaign in which she had 52 points, including 39 goals.
Neureuter said the two can depend on each other for a solid pass and both have the ability to play from behind the net. The two will also take draws for the team.
“Molly and I both want to play in college, so we want to be leaders,” Jackson said. “We’ll try to push the girls, and if they get down, we’ll try to encourage them. It’s still a younger team, but we’ve definitely grown as a team so far.”
Also from the senior class, Sarah Woods will be a leader for the defensive unit and Melanie Raduloff steps into a larger role, returning as a starter on attack. “Those four girls will basically never leave the field,” Archabald noted.
He’s also returning sophomore Angela Cala to the defense and junior Amanda Krousse, who will go from playing goalie to working in the field on offense. Junior Hannah Mardino, who missed most of last season with a concussion, will help as a defender.
The remainder of the lineup will be filled out by newcomers to the team, said Archabald.
“We want to keep a positive attitude, because it can be discouraging at times,” Neureuter said. “We’ve been there, so we know how it can be. Especially with having a lot of younger girls, with the older girls, I think it’s important to let them know that we’re not the big, bad seniors. We’re going to support them no matter what.”