Ocean City Today
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Decatur girls’ lacrosse team deep with talent this season

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Mar 22, 2018
Photo by: Lisa Capitelli “We’re definitely not the team we were last year,” said Stephen Decatur senior captain Chloe Sass, center. “We have a lot of new, younger girls who are very skilled and I think me, being a four-year player, I can teach them a couple of things they don’t know yet that we’ve done in previous years and definitely show them some leadership.” She is pictured with soph- omores Gabby Izzett, left, and Sarah Engle.

(March 23, 2018) Despite graduating nine players, seven of whom signed to play Division I or II lacrosse for their respective colleges, the Stephen Decatur girls’ squad is deep with talent this year.

“We’re definitely connecting well already. We’re communicating well and working as a unit, especially on the offensive end,” Decatur Coach Sara Braniecki said. “The girls are working hard. We have a lot of depth and young, new talent. They’re catching onto stuff quickly.”

Braniecki, now in her third season leading the Lady Seahawks, has 21 players on her roster. Twelve competed last year when the squad went 12-5.

The Seahawks captured their fourth consecutive 3A/2A East Region championship in 2017. Decatur’s season came to an end in the 3A/2A state semifinals.

Players returning to compete include seniors Lily Belle Baker (midfield), Chloe Sass (midfield/defense), Maggie Bunting (attack) and Caroline Engle (attack), juniors Logan Townsend (midfield) and Kennedy Duke (defense) and sophomores Abby Yesko (defense) and Sarah Engle (midfield).

Braniecki said newcomer Elizabeth Dutton, a sophomore, will contribute on the attack.

Sass and Baker received Bayside South First Team honors for their performance last year. Caroline Engle, Townsend, Duke and Yesko earned Second Team accolades.

Sass, Baker and senior Hattie Brous (attack) have been named team captains.

“We’re definitely not the team we were last year. We have a lot of new, younger girls who are very skilled and I think me, being a four-year player, I can teach them a couple of things they don’t know yet that we’ve done in previous years and definitely show them some leadership,” Sass said. “They’re really a strong group and I think the next couple of years they’ll be a really good team.”

Sass is looking forward to the season, but said it is also bittersweet.

“Having these girls around me and being here for so long is definitely heartwarming and I love every single one of them. They’ve really become like family,” she said. “To be successful this year is going to take some of our upperclassmen really relying on the younger girls, because they are the future of our program and they’re doing well so far. I think we’ll be great because of them.”

Sass thinks Decatur will surprise some people this year.

“I think we’ll be a pretty big threat that people don’t expect because we lost so many great players last year,” she said.

Baker, who signed to play Division I lacrosse for University of Hartford, has been a member of the team for two years. She is also excited for the season to begin. Baker said she loves her coach and all her teammates.

“Our team is really strong this year. The new girls have molded into our team very well and, also, the seniors we’re taking a lot of leadership this year,” Baker said. “I’m hoping to have a bigger role with transitioning passes, coming up from defense to midfield, because last year we played a lot of defense as [midfielders]. This year I feel we’ll be more offensive as a team.”

Even though the team graduated major contributors, Braniecki said this year’s group could be just as successful.

“The girls know they can. It’s just going to take a lot of work,” she said. “We’d like to get back to the Bayside championship again and the state final four. We have a lot of faith in the girls.”

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