Since its existence, about a decade, Newburgh’s lacrosse program has struggled without feeder teams to help build its varsity squads.
But that’s changing this spring with the formation of modified teams, for seventh and eighth-graders, that will get players ready to play on the varsity teams.
“It’s the hope that in two years time,” said Matt Abate, who coaches Newburgh’s girls’ team, “they should make an impact on the varsity teams.”
Abate returns with a team that went 0-16 last season. The team lost six seniors, most notably Taylor Gabriel, who graduated as the third all-time leading scorer for the Lady Goldbacks.
“I think this year, we probably should be a little bit better than last year,” said Abate.
Nearly 40 players came into camp for 25 spots, and only four starters return to start as the foundation for Abate.
Paige Barbera, a senior three-year player and captain, can play up front, as midfielder and on defense. Senior Kayla Walsh returns to play attack, and Keely Hofving, a junior, returns to play as a midfielder.
Aisling Martin, a junior, will play defense, and Erin Mushlit, a junior transfer, is expected to play in the midfield.
“A lot our new players play other sports,” said Abate. “I think that, athletically, they should help us.”
Walsh, Hofving and Barbera are multi-sport athletes, and their competitive experience should benefit the team this year.
Abate will be making some cuts. And if those cuts go down to the modified team, that should be the start of some future development for the Lady Goldbacks.
But there will be some development on the varsity level, and seven or eight competent players will be needed to get the Lady Goldbacks into the winning column more often.
“I think if I get three or four more really developed, we can be very competitive in a lot of our games,” said Abate.
While enduring a winless season last year, the Lady Goldbacks fought into overtime and lost by a few goals. As a learning experience, that could also help the team this year.
“With some experience,” said Abate, “you can turn some of those into wins.”
By Bond Brungard