Several members of the freshman and sophomore classes were called upon to contribute to the Roxbury High School girl’s lacrosse varsity team this spring. Although the Gaels struggled at times this season, as would most teams who have inexperienced players in its varsity lineup, they were still able to capture seven victories and had a record of 2-3 in North Jersey Interscholastic Girls Lacrosse League Freedom North Division. Roxbury advanced to the NJSIAA North Group III Sectional Tournament where they were defeated by Morristown.
“Considering we had about a dozen of freshmen and sophomores this year on varsity, I think we had a lot of players who made great strides this year and gives me great hope for next season,’’ Roxbury head coach Kevin Bewalder said. “But if I had to pick one player, I would say Emily Koepfler was a freshman who made the team based mostly on her ability to outwork and out hustle her teammates during the preseason.
“Her lacrosse skills weren’t superior but what she lacked, she made up for with hard work and hustle. She was a quick study with what we were trying to do in our transition game and the stick skills really came a long way over the season. She went from playing sparingly to being a strong bench player to a starter who played every position except goalie and I think she will be a strong player for us over the next few years.’’
Although the Gaels had a young squad this year, there were still those upperclassmen who proved to be solid role models for their teammates.
“Amanda Beal and Katie Cikovsky were my two senior leaders as well as two of my stronger two-way players in the midfield,’’ Bewalder said. “Amanda Beal, who finished with 99 goals for her career and sits eighth on the all-time scoring list at Roxbury, will take her game to the next level at Montclair State University.
“I would say that Kayla Lucia, a senior attack, really stepped up and took on a leadership role on offense. She took a couple of the younger, inexperienced offensive players under her wing and instilled a lot of confidence in them. I would say that sophomore Cristina LoBrace took on a leadership role on the defensive side of the ball. Senior defender Ellen Cryan dealt with a serious back injury for most of the season and we needed someone to step up and take on the vocal leadership role in our end of the field and I think Cristina responded to that need better than anyone else and helped strengthen our defense over the course of the year, and I look forward to seeing her continue to do so over the next two years.’’
Amongst the seven wins Roxbury earned this spring, Bewalder recall a trio of games in which his team demonstrated particularly strong efforts.
“There are three games that will stick out in my mind when I reflect on this year’s team,’’ Bewalder said. “First was our win over a strong Morris Knolls team. It was the first time that we really started to show signs of coming of age on the defensive side of the ball. The second would be an 8-6 win over Randolph. It’s always nice to beat a neighborly rival but we have had a couple of tough goal setbacks to them in recent years so it was nice to come out on top, and to hold an opponent to six goals was impressive, we only did it one other time this year.
“The third game was our Mendham game in the Morris County Tournament. We were the 15th seed and played them as the second seed. We lost, 13-5, but had the score at 9-5 with just over five minutes left in the game. We played them two years ago and lost 16-1 and we only had two shots on goal. This game was one of our stronger performances of the year and really stuck with and made them earn everything they got on offense.’’