---- — By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- For the past 14 years, Karin Knisely has seen a slow, but progressive growth of girls lacrosse teams in the area.
The fifth-year coach at Mifflinburg, along with her husband and two other families helped formed the Central Susquehanna Lacrosse Club (CSLC) to fill the lacrosse void in the area.
With Warrior Run adding a team this year, it brings the total to six schools offering girls lacrosse.
Mifflinburg enjoyed its first-ever winning season last year.
"I think we have the potential to win the league and the district championship," said Knisely who was the head coach at Lewisburg for five years before taking the Wildcats job. "That's the goal I set forth to the team."
Lewisburg is the two-time defending league champions. Head coach Janelle Groff, a goalie in her high school and college days, is in her sixth year of coaching the Green Dragons and third as head coach.
"There's a lot the goalie has to know about the game from being the leader of the defense to knowing how the attack players are setting up their plays," she said. "You have to be a student of the game."
Lewisburg won its second straight league title last year, but for the second straight year, fell to Midd-West in the District 4 finals.
"We're hoping to be the District 4 champions this year," Groff said. "We have seniors that will have to step up and fill leadership roles."
Sam Landis, a 2008 Warrior Run graduate, along with her mom, Kelly, are sharing the coaching duties for the Defenders first-year team.
Sam Landis played field hockey for Warrior Run while playing lacrosse for Midd-West and Lewisburg. She credits Knisely, for whom she played at Lewisburg, with getting the program going this year.
"My mom and I tired to get a team started before, but the school told us we couldn't get a varsity-funded team so we had to go at it on our own," she said.
Landis, who is currently the assistant head coach for women's lacrosse at Lycoming College, said the goal for the program is to teach the girls the basic rules while having fun playing the game.
Midd-West is the two-time defending District 4 champion. First year head coach Melissa Brauer-Stuck, who played high school lacrosse in the Philadelphia and Pottstown areas, takes over for Lonnie Wagner who left because of a job promotion.
"We don't have a big roster, but we have been very successful as the girls have a lot of heart and determination," Brauer-Stuck said. "I am going to give the girls the tools and skills and then it is up to them to use them on the field. We've been working on plays, conditioning and fundamentals, hopefully all three will come together"
Danville lacrosse coach Carlene Klena has been coaching women's lacrosse for 20 years. She played her college lacrosse at Rutgers University and her high school lacrosse at Great Neck North (Long Island, N.Y.). She's been running the Danville program since 2007.
"It took a very special young woman to come out in the beginning and play lacrosse," Klena said of the her first team. "They weren't getting the notoriety or varsity letters, it was more for trying something new. Those girls were phenomenal."
For the first time in its history, Danville will field a junior varsity team this year.
Debbie Moyer is in her second year as head coach at Selinsgrove.
"We have 22 girls on the roster this year, which is up from last year (19)," she said. "The majority of our roster is sophomores and juniors, we only have two seniors on the team."
Moyer noted that she has 10 returning players and 12 girls who are coming out for the first time. She is being helped by her husband, Seals boys basketball head coach Ray Moyer.
"I have girls that played basketball, field hockey and soccer on the team," she noted. "It's a great way to keep in shape in the spring for when the fall sports come around."
Moyer has never played lacrosse but she noted that she learned a lot from the experience last year.
"Once you get the bug for it, you just love it," she said.