The Lake-Lehman girls lacrosse program is rising quickly and there is reason to believe it will continue in the years ahead.
The Lady Knights posted a winning record in the first season of Wyoming Valley Conference play and made the second District 2 semifinal appearance in as many seasons since the program moved to the varsity level.
There was clear progress from last season when Lake-Lehman squeezed into the semifinals with a one-goal victory over the lowest-seeded team in the quarterfinals before being pounded, 22-1, by district champion Wyoming Seminary in the semifinals.
Lake-Lehman dominated Dallas, 14-4, in the quarterfinals and put up more of a battle before falling to unbeaten Wyoming Seminary, 16-5. The loss ended a season in which the Lady Knights were 7-5 in the WVC and 12-8 overall.
“We had an advantage over some of the other first- and second-year teams in that there was a girls program at Lake-Lehman,” coach Alex Wilson said of the club program coached by teacher Jennifer Loftus for three years prior to the 2012 varsity debut. “Out of that club came some senior leadership that helped what otherwise would have been a very young team.”
Senior Amelia Jenkins spent her second season as captain, coming back strong after missing the second half of last season with a concussion.
“She came back this year and really was a team leader, both in practice and on the field as our center midfielder,” Wilson said.
Kassie Keiper joined the club program as a sophomore and developed into one of the team leaders, serving as another captain this season as a senior.
“She was a very strong wing defender for us,” Wilson said.
Jenkins joined high-scoring sophomores Alysa Adams and Mallory Wilson in creating much of the offense while Keiper joined goalkeeper Mackenzie Borum, another sophomore, in leading the defense in the third win of the season over Dallas.
Adams had five goals and an assist, Wilson had four goals and an assist and Jenkins added four goals.
Borum made 10 saves.
Aleaha Blazick scored the first of six straight goals by Lake-Lehman to open the game.
Adams finished the season with 87 goals and four assists. Wilson had 49 goals and 31 assists. Jenkins had 28 goals and six assists.
The high-scoring season came to an end Tuesday at Wyoming Seminary.
While Lake-Lehman enjoys an experience advantage on some other fledgling programs, it is on the other end of that situation against Wyoming Seminary.
“They have five or six seniors starting who have all been playing together since grade school,” coach Wilson said. “We’re still young. We started three girls who picked up a stick for the first time this year.
“We’re coming along but when you make one mistake, Seminary doesn’t let you get away with it. They capitalize.”
Adams had four goals in the loss while Wilson had a goal and two assists.
With nine sophomores in the starting lineup and more help on the way, Lake-Lehman has reason for high hopes.
Many of this year’s starters gained experience last fall playing together for 20 games, primarily in the Baltimore and Philadelphia areas. Wilson is hopeful of a similar commitment and more young players are on their way into the program.
The team’s booster club started a seventh- and eighth-grade team that won the Wyoming Valley Youth Girls’ Lacrosse League under coach Ron Strohl.
“That’s been successful beyond our expectations,” coach Wilson said. “We had three Lehman girls, who had been part of the (Back Mountain) Bandits, who are the core of that team.
“Thirteen other girls came out who would not have otherwise played lacrosse and thye’ve had a great season.”
Wilson also said first-year athletic director Jeff Shook has been instrumental in helping the program’s continued transition from its former club status to a winning varsity program.