Weekly Feature



2017-04-06 / Sports

ALL-WNYers poised to help East girls lax excel

As is the case with virtually every team out there, West Seneca East’s girls lacrosse team will be looking toward some new players to step up and contribute to its success this spring after graduating six players off a roster that won 11 of 12 games to close out the regular season last year.

Fortunately for the Lady Trojans, they’ll be able to count on a pair of returning All-WNY all-stars to be the guiding light in their bid to post a second 
Laura Skrzypczyk, front, is one of two All-WNY players returning to the lineup for West Seneca East’s girls lacrosse team this spring. The senior attacker and co-captain earned First Team status — as well as First Team All-Bee all-star honors — after guiding the Lady Trojans with 90 goals in 2016. 
File photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Laura Skrzypczyk, front, is one of two All-WNY players returning to the lineup for West Seneca East’s girls lacrosse team this spring. The senior attacker and co-captain earned First Team status — as well as First Team All-Bee all-star honors — after guiding the Lady Trojans with 90 goals in 2016. File photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com consecutive undefeated march through league action — despite a shift in divisional alignment this spring — and third divisional title overall.

“We have a great group coming back who understand the style and system of play we use,” coach Jeff Bauda said. “All of our offense and midfield is coming back, along with a couple of defensive players who got a significant amount of playing time last year. More importantly, the returning players are extremely positive and encouraging to each other, as well as to their ‘new’ teammates. They all have created a fun, hard-working, positive environment which allows every teammate to feel comfortable in developing their skills.”

East’s team unity was certainly on display during its season-opening 11-8 victory over Hamburg — the squad that ended East’s effort last year in the Class B title game — on March 29. The Lady Trojans battled their way to a 5-4 first-half lead and never looked back, gradually pulling away in the second half to secure the victory.

Senior midfielder and co-captain Grace Vogel, an All-WNY Second Team and All-Bee Honorable Mention all-star last spring, led the way for East with five goals. Vogel was among the most productive players for the Lady Trojans last season, finishing with 60 goals, 24 assists and 51 ground balls. Senior attacker and co-captain Laura Skrzypczyk, an All-WNY First Team and All-Bee First Team all-star last spring, added four goals. Skrzypczyk paced East last spring with 90 goals, nine assists and 18 takeaways while also chipping in with 42 ground balls.

Junior attacker Bridget Emerson added two goals for East, while junior goalie Amanda Weiner turned aside 13 saves to post the victory in net.

“The girls played great,” Bauda said. “Everyone had a role in the win, whether they were on the field or not. We were strong on the draw, which allowed our offense to set things up and control the tempo. Defensively we played extremely well, too, forcing bad-angled shots as well as shots from the top of the ‘8.’ This allowed our goalie to anticipate the shot and make a lot of saves.”

It was about the best start to the season that East could’ve had. Everyone on the team has already been working hard to become the best individual player possible, which will make East the best team possible, Bauda said. The enthusiasm and hard work the girls bring to practice and games every day has benefited the Lady Trojans, Bauda said, as “they are willing to do any and everything to make themselves and their teammates the best possible.”

East also returns all-stars Maddy Austin, Aaryonah Vaughn and Madison Brzezicki to the mix this spring. Austin, a senior midfielder and team co-captain who was an ECIC II First Team all-star last year, scored 12 goals, had four assists and scooped up 62 ground balls. Vaughn, who added 27 goals, and Brzezicki, who had 13 goals, nine assists and 37 ground balls, were both ECIC II Second Team all-stars last season.

And though not an all-star last year, sophomore attacker Briana Sweeney also contributed 14 goals and four assists.

“This year’s group definitely has a good amount of experience and speed,” Bauda said. “They understand the offensive and defensive schemes, along with our clears and rides. The girls are extremely positive, supportive and hard-working. They always put the team first and work to the best of their ability, and they’ve created an environment where they believe and trust in one another.”

Newcomers to the varsity squad who are hoping to have a positive impact on the team’s success early and often this season include defensemen Kaira Patterson (senior), Shelby Kresconko (junior), Breanna Roth (junior) and Taylor Slimak (junior), along with attackers Amanda Kiczewski (junior), Anna Frank (junior) and Gianna Yammarino (junior).

“The newer girls have fit right in since day one,” Bauda said. “They work to the best of their ability every day.”

East (1-0 overall) was slated to resume play Wednesday by hosting Niagara-Wheatfield, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Lady Trojans close out their week this evening by hosting Orchard Park and then have close to two weeks off before resuming play April 18 at Iroquois.

“We just need to take it one practice and one game at a time,” Bauda said. “The girls understand their individual roles and expectations, and if everyone plays their part, I think we have the opportunity to play the best lacrosse possible. The only thing we can control is how we prepare and how we play. We need to be consistent with the fundamental skills used in lacrosse — our catching, throwing and ground balls — and we also need to understand that there is always room for improvement.”

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

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