By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
It’s been an eight-year journey, but Danville’s girls lacrosse team finally has its varsity status.
From the day that she began the program, head coach Carlene Klena knew this day would come.
“It was necessary for us to have the school funding to sustain the program and to legitimize the girls’ efforts,” she said. “For us to become a varsity sport (without the school funding), it wouldn’t be affordable to drive far and wide to play. Now that we have the funding, we can offset any funding limitations.”
With funding, Klena noted that she can can now reach out to schools like Wyoming Seminary, State College and teams in Harrisburg to play additional games.
The addition of Danville as a varsity team is a boost for the Central Susquehanna Girls Lacrosse League.
The former Rutgers University lacrosse player has been the driving force to get girls lacrosse recognized as a varsity sport in order to be funded by the school district.
Last year, Danville (9-2) made it to its first-ever district championship, but fell to Lewisburg, 12-4.
The program has grown so much at Danville that there are 32 girls on the varsity roster and at one point during this school year, there was a total of 70 girls playing lacrosse including the middle school.
The push for getting the varsity status began last year as Danville has climbed the ladder from an intramural sport to club and now varsity.
Klena, who has college coaching experience as well, still sees growing pains for the sport in the area.
“It seems like in this area, there are external facilities such as teams trying to find a home field along with a base of officials that have a lacrosse background,” she said. “We are blessed with the officials we have, we just don’t have enough of them.”
Among the key returnees for Klena’s team is senior Liz Pavis (attack), junior Sarah Weber (defense) junior Haley Spotts (goalie) and sophomore Martina Placan (midfielder).
Pavis and Weber were selected to the 2013 US Lacrosse All-Academic team.
Lewisburg, Midd-West and Mifflinburg were all hit hard by graduation last year.
Lewisburg (13-6 overall, 11-0 CSGLL) lost to Seminary in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs last year.
The Green Dragons lost 14 girls and they only have three seniors returning this year including The Daily Item’s Player of the Year Hanna Gotoff, the team’s leading scorer.
“It will be difficult to replace the 14 seniors that graduated last year,” said fourth year head coach Janelle Groff. “They helped to lead our team to numerous victories over the past four years including three league championships and our first district championship last year.”
Gotoff is a four-year starter on varsity and led the team in draw controls. Other key players for Lewisburg include senior Lenore Doyle (defense, midfield), junior Jessica Penn (midlefid) and senior Alexa Connors (attack).
Missy Brauer-Stuck is in her third year as head coach at Midd-West as the team went 6-8 overall and 6-6 in the league.
The Mustangs, who lost in the first round of the playoffs to Danville, lost seven seniors including Nachea Bachman at the attack position.
“We have two new goalies and only one girl, Amanda Straub, returning on defense,” Brauer-Stuck said. “Hopefully we’ll have more speed this year and we’ll make up for the lack of scoring. I’m looking to Karli Arbogast (defense/midfield) and Julie Hurst (attack) to be the high scorers and for Brianna Beiler to be our leader in the midfield.”
Karin Knisely — one of the founding members of the CSGLL — is in her sixth season as the head coach at Mifflinburg (4-8) and lost 16 players to graduation including three all-league players in the top two scorers all-time in Kiersten Dauberman and Dani Ard, along with midfield Jordan Caprioli and Tessa Woodring on defense.
“We don’t have the depth the we had last year, but we have some really athletic new players,” she said. “Those girls really showed some nice talent. It’s going to be a really nice team.”
Knisely noted that she has two very good players on the defensive wing: seniors Megan Mensch and Kayla Forcheskie, along with juniors Gillian Allen and Alexis Erb at the attack who are very good ball handlers who are fast and make very good decisions.
In goal is sophomore Casey Monahan who Knisely said has really improved from last year.
The 2014 season in the CSGLL will be an interesting one with graduation taking its toll. Who wins the league and goes on the state playoffs will be determined by what team(s) can win the ground ball game the most.
Selinsgrove went 6-7 last year behind third-year head coach Debi Moyer.
The Seals qualified for the district playoffs last year.
“We are looking to improve upon our results from last year,” Moyer said. “The fight for the district title will be tough as all the returning teams seem evenly matched.”
Selinsgrove is returning 10 seniors who were major contributors to the squad last year. Adding to the mix are 16 new players that have come out for the team.
Among the key returning players for the Seals are senior center Sara Moyer, senior center Madeleine Troppe and senior attack Alli Kahn.