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CRLS Girls Lacrosse Team Builds Foundation

Team Continues Moving in the Right Direction Despite Challenges

Robert Shapiro, Contributing Writer

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Nutella is to America as lacrosse is to CRLS. We slept on it hard for years, but now that we have discovered it, we can’t get enough. Unfortunately, this relative newness means we haven’t had the time to become as skilled as our counterparts. The game has a history of being an upper-class, suburban sport which makes it difficult for the Falcons to compete in the Dual County League, which is made up of upper-class, suburban towns like Newton and Acton-Boxborough.

Newer urban programs entering the sport are at a clear disadvantage for several reasons, one of which being that suburban schools have easier access to facilities.

Their fields and locker rooms are on campus. At CRLS, teams have to travel to practice. The difference is especially pronounced for the girls team, which practices and plays games at Danehy Park. Renovations to Russell Field have forced this year’s boys lacrosse team to temporarily play and practice at Danehy as well, but they will be able to return next season to an upgraded facility with locker rooms and an easy-to-access weight room.

The lack of sharing is a major grievance of the girls team. The boys and girls basketball teams are able to share Al Coccoluto Gymnasium successfully with the girls practicing right after school and the boys practicing at five, which begs the question of why the lacrosse programs don’t do something similar.

There is definite support for a system of sharing from players like Rayna McElhiney ’19, who said, “I would prefer different times [for] practices.”

An additional impediment to the success of urban teams is the lack of programs that teach kids the fundamentals early. Suburban towns will often host lacrosse camps and clinics similar to the “Tomorrow’s Stars” or “Soccer Night” programs of Cambridge that get kids interested and familiar with the game so they can come into high school ready to compete.

Cambridge is just now starting to have lacrosse camps of its own, which according to captain Hanna Norris ’18 has led to “more and more players coming in who have played before.”

These challenges, though, don’t stop girls lacrosse from doing things their way. They wear shorts, which offer a much broader range of motion than the traditionally worn skirts. Many CRLS girls lacrosse players regard the traditional skirts as ridiculous. CRLS players mock the hyper masculine and fraternity-like nature of suburban boys lacrosse, holding a “lax bros” day, when they wear outfits complete with backwards caps, mesh pinnies, and black and white Nike crew socks.

It also doesn’t mean they haven’t made strides. This year’s team, which is led by captains Norris, Ella Brown ’18, and Isabelle Kenny ’18, has won eight games this season, improving upon last season’s record of 3-15.

The most meaningful of the four victories was over the Belmont Marauders. The Falcons were tied going into half, but came out of the break aggressively and were able to run away with the game on the way to a final score of 16 to 7 mean.

There is still a lot of work that has to be done if the Falcons are going to compete for league titles, but under the tutelage of head coach Shannon Manning, it could certainly happen.

Ms. Manning had an accolade-filled college career playing for the Bridgewater State Bears—she was an Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III New England First Team All-Star three times as well as Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletics Conference All-Academic selection two times. Her experience balancing academic and athletic excellence makes her not only an superb coach, but also an exceptional role model.

Her style resonates with players like Norris, who spoke of her leadership and added, “She’s also your friend when she needs to be.” She embodies the work ethic that will be vital to the team’s future success.

This season is about adding to a foundation. The team has more work to do before it becomes a powerhouse, but the growing popularity of the sport coupled with this year’s determination to be great may just get it there.

This piece also appears in our May print edition.

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CRLS Girls Lacrosse Team Builds Foundation