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ConVal girls' lacrosse gunning for a state championship

  • The ConVal girls' lacrosse team has a strong group of seniors, led by captains Lily Sheridan, Grace Dell and Katie Moorehead. Now, they're looking to make a run for the state title. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' lacrosse team has a strong group of seniors, led by captains Lily Sheridan, Grace Dell and Katie Moorehead. Now, they're looking to make a run for the state title. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' lacrosse team has a strong group of seniors, led by captains Lily Sheridan, Grace Dell and Katie Moorehead. Now, they're looking to make a run for the state title. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, April 27, 2018

Senior leadership, dangerous scorers, intimidating midfielders, staunch defenders and tough goalies – the ConVal girls’ lacrosse team has it all.

“That’s why we’re going to win the state championship this year!” said captain Lily Sheridan.

Oh yeah, and confidence – the Cougars aren’t short on that, either.

ConVal returns six seniors from last year’s playoff team, any of whom could have been a captain, head coach Derek Sorbello said, and on paper, this looks like one of Division III’s most fearsome squads. But Sorbello’s not ready to anoint them just yet.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do before [a championship] even comes into our vision,” Sorbello said on a sun-drenched Tuesday morning.Thanks to an extended winter, the Cougars have only gotten two games in and just a handful of outdoor practices, while teams like Kearsarge already have five games under their belts. Once this team gets rolling, though, blue and gold skies are the limit.

“I think we can compete with any team out there, for sure,” Sorbello said. “If they keep on the path that we started on, they should get into the playoffs, and hopefully we can make a deep run. After that, we’ll see. We’ve just got to get in there, the first goal is just to get a foot in the door.”

With this season’s talent, the Cougars might just kick that door right down.

Senior captains Sheridan and Grace Dell are the flashy goal scorers – a “dynamic duo,” Dell said. The southpaw slung in her 100th career goal on Monday against Hopkinton; Sheridan put her hundredth home last season, and the word is out. Now, the two go to work against faceguarding and double-teams, and nothing seems to slow them down.

The dynamic duo might make the headlines, but they know that the rest of their core is just as important. Senior captain Katie Moorehead racks up assists, wins draws and creates turnovers, and might pick up a couple yellow cards along the way as the team’s enforcer. Kalbie Grassett is an end-to-end machine, Sara Krslovic does every little thing in the midfield and Emma Crowley is a wall in net.

“Lily and Grace get all the accolades,” Sorbello said, “because they’re 100-goal scorers, but without Katie and Kalbie and their defensive abilities, Crowley in net, and Sara, who’s unsung, I think, in the midfield, there’s a lot of voids if you lose those players. They mean a lot to us.”

Sorbello has been coaching most of these seniors since their youth lacrosse days. Now in their final year at ConVal, the girls say a switch has been flipped.

“I’ve wanted to win the championship since freshman year,” Sheridan said, “but when we came on here as freshmen, it was a really different world.”

“The attitude was a lot different compared to now,” Dell agreed. “We all really want it now. I love this team this year. This has to be my favorite group of girls to play with.”

The girls said it was tough back in 2015, freshman year, trying to mesh with the upperclassmen but encountering resistance. It seems they learned from that experience; this year’s seniors embody leadership, welcoming the talented young crop of freshmen and sophomores with open arms and plenty of instruction.

“We’ve been working hard,” Moorehead said. “We’ve got a lot of young players, young talent, I think we just need to mold together and I think we’ll be really good contenders.”

The Cougars opened the season by blowing out Campbell. Rain pushed ConVal’s showdown with Hopkinton into school vacation week, and down a few key players, the Cougars lost 17-8. The real action starts now, though; ConVal has three games on the road this week, starting with Trinity on Monday. Wednesday, it’s a trip to Bow, where the Cougars’ season ended in a playoff defeat last year. Dell and her teammates aren’t planning on letting that happen again.

“I hate losing,” Dell said. “I’ve always had that competitive mindset going into a game.”

There’s no team that ConVal can take lightly this year, and they know they need to win the games they’re supposed to win. That lesson was driven home last season when the Cougars lost their last two games before the playoffs, sending their postseason seeding into a tailspin. There’s a little more urgency here in 2018, despite the talent of the underclassmen. With the big six seniors graduating and ConVal moving up to Division II next year, the window is as open as it’ll ever be right now, and the girls are ready to seize the moment. 

“This is our last year,” Sheridan said. “We want to leave a mark on ConVal, because we don’t know if there’s going to be a class like us. I want to do it for my teammates, Derek, our parents that have put in so much work for us. It would be great to win a championship, it would feel so good, because we’ve worked so hard.”