Smyrna girls’ lacrosse has come a long way

 

Maddie Price is one of six seniors who have been with the varsity program since the beginning. (Delaware State News file photo)

Maddie Price is one of six seniors who have been with the varsity program since the beginning. (Delaware State News file photo)

SMYRNA — They can look back now and laugh about how bad they were.

It wasn’t that the first group of Smyrna High girls’ lacrosse players were bad athletes, of course.

It’s just that most of those fledgling Eagles had never played the sport before.

“It was really nerve-wracking because none of us knew what we were doing,” said senior Maddie Price. “We were all like, ‘Ah, what do we do?’ No one knew what positions were. I had never picked up a stick.”

“I had never even seen a game of lacrosse before the very first day,” said fellow senior Alison Sayers. “It was so new and it was scary.”

From those humble beginnings, though, Smyrna has quickly grown into a pretty respectable girls’ lacrosse program.

The Eagles are currently 3-2 in the Henlopen Conference, 5-2 overall. And while Smyrna has gone a solid 13-14-1 in its first two varsity seasons, now the Eagles are eyeing the program’s first winning campaign.

It would be a big accomplishment for this year’s seniors who were part of Smyrna’s first team, which started out as a junior varsity program when they were freshmen.

“We always say, ‘That was already four years ago?’” said Sayers. “Look how much we’ve grown — not even knowing how to catch the ball, let alone use our left hand. Now we’re doing it kind of like it’s second nature. We’re like, ‘Look at us with a winning record.’ When we finish a game, we’re like, ‘Oh my gosh.’

“It’s cool being the first four-year team. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of people, a better group of coaches.”

Right from the start this year, the Eagles showed things would be different when they opened the season with an 11-5 win over Sussex Tech. While the Ravens are rebuilding this season, Smyrna lost to Sussex Tech by a combined 35-5 in its first two meetings.

That victory may have even surprised the Eagles themselves as much as anybody else.

“It was just an awesome feeling running off that field,” said senior goalie Gabrielle DiRusso. “That was a team that had creamed us by 10-plus goals. … We were completely shocked coming off that field.

“Each little step we take is motivation to do something even better and to set higher goals for ourselves.”

Smyrna also picked up an 11-8 victory over Dover, a team it lost to by a total of 28-12 in the first two meetings.

The six seniors who have been with the Eagles since the beginning are Price, Sayers, DiRusso, Allison Wheatley, Shabnam Noroozi-Pooya and Annalise Stilwell.

“I told them that they were a part of history,” coach Amy Musto said about that first squad. “We’re going to need to put Smyrna on the map as far as girls’ lacrosse goes. … From that (2-5-1 first JV season), we have come a long way.

“I knew these girls had it in them from the start because they’re all really great students as well. And their heart was in it.”

Making the program’s first state tournament appearance would be a dream come true for the Eagles. But it won’t be easy.

Only 10 teams make the DIAA state tourney field.

Still, Smyrna is hungry to accomplish as much as it can this spring. Even the underclassmen appreciate the fact that this is a special season for the eight seniors on the roster.

“We just want to come out and show that Smyrna is something to respect,” said sophomore defender Juliana Kolakowski. “It’s getting better. This year everybody’s saying, ‘Wow, they’re really improving. This team is really coming up.’ Sussex Tech was a really big eye-opener to other teams, I guess, like, ‘We can’t take them lightly.’”

In some ways, Smyrna has already surpassed what the players on that first team expected.

While the first Eagles knew they were making history, they didn’t know what their legacy would end up being.

“We weren’t sure that we were ever going to become the winning-record team,” said Price. “I always knew it would come one day but I never knew if I’d be able to be a part of it. It’s a really nice feeling.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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