Thursday March 27, 2014 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
LOOKING FOR OFFENSE — Senior Taylor Izzo, seen here in last year’s Class A championship game, should again be one of Frontier’s top scorers. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Tim Myslinski has already taken the opportunity to give the 2014 Frontier girls lacrosse team his preseason spiel. He spoke about where the program has been, from where it is coming and where it is going.
In 2011, he explained that the Falcons capped years of building up from what was once a last-place team, to get over the hump and win a sectional title. Since then, Frontier has continued to be one of Western New York’s premier teams, but the past two seasons have ended finishing a game short of the program’s second Class A title.
He said that he does not want that same fate to befall this year’s group, although he realizes it again will be a tough road to hoe, for his team. Lancaster, Class A’s champion eight of the past nine seasons – losing to only Frontier in that span, returns most of last year’s team and squads like Clarence and Orchard Park have gotten only better.
Myslinski said that he explained, to the team, that “we’ve been doing very well, but it’s been two years since we finished. “The last two years, we’ve had some great talent graduate and we’ve continued to show tremendous growth.”
What made last season’s 14 – 4 campaign so difficult to swallow was losing three times by one goal, twice to Lancaster, including seeing a comeback attempt fall short in a 9 – 8 sectional final loss, and once to Class B champion Hamburg, also 9 – 8, in a three-overtime game.
“How many times are we going to lose to Lancaster by one goal?” the coach said that he asked his team, while trying to motivate his athletes.
“When will we be done losing to Hamburg in three overtimes?”
If this group is to turn those close losses into wins it will have much to do with the contributions of third-year senior starter Hannah Lease, who led team with 53 points, on 34 goals and 19 assists. The play-making midfielder, who will compete in college next year, was also second in ground balls, with 51.
“She’s a crucial part of our midfield,” Myslinski said about Lease, who made the transition last year from being in more of a defensive role as a sophomore. “She’s huge to this team.”
Fellow senior Taylor Izzo scored 26 times last season, and Myslinski candidly has told her the team will need even more production this year as Izzo goes from the attack to midfield.
Myslinski will also count on a trio of seniors to lead the defense, as Molly Kacmarski returns as a starter, while Paige Evancho and Laura Gartelman step into larger roles on the backline. He likes the rapport the three have already created. Frontier lost defender Grace Christiansen, who led last year’s team with 60 ground balls.
Junior returning starters Jackie Dufresne and Julia Hackford should both be impact players in the midfield, according to Myslinski. Dufresne, who her coach called the team’s most natural goal scorer, finished 14 tallies last season, while Hackford has made the switch from playing attack in 2013. They’ll attempt to replace some of the production provided by leading goal scorer Hannah Christiansen, a Second Team All-WNY selection.
“With their development in the offseason and hard work, the sky is the limit for them,” Myslinski said, about his junior midfielders.
Attempting to replace First Team All-WNY goalie Emily Pasternak, who didn’t miss a minute of play last season, are junior Tabatha Smith and sophomore Sophie Jones. Both have stepped up and made the coach’s decision difficult, Myslinski noted.
Besides being challenged by fellow Class A squads in division play, Frontier will also see new additions Hamburg and West Seneca East twice, during the regular season. With Class B being the largest classification and A shrinking a bit, last year’s B finalists will move up to the top division for the regular season.
“Hamburg is a great rivalry and with West Seneca East – those are two very good teams that are going to make the division very tough,” Myslinski noted.
Frontier may be as young of a team since before winning a title, but Myslinski said that he has been impressed with the tremendous development he has seen, since the summer. He said that this group is just as capable as ones of the past several seasons.
“I hope teams take us lightly,” Myslinski said. “I’m looking forward to the season so much. This team is so motivated and working so hard, it makes it enjoyable going to work.”