Not since the 2001 season has the Baldwinsville girls lacrosse team entered a new spring as a defending champion, which was challenging enough.
But the combination of a brutal early schedule and injuries at key positions has added more adversity that head coach Doug Rowe and his players must overcome if it wants to go to the top again.
B’ville ended a 13-year Section III Class A title drought in 2013, edging Cicero-North Syracuse in the finals at the Carrier Dome, and made it all the way to the state championship game at SUNY-Cortland before falling to Farmingdale.
From that team, there was not a large roster turnover. Graduating starters included Sarah Klaben, Amari Pollard, Amanda Klein, Abbey Foote and Johna Kjerstad, but there’s plenty of talent back, from goalie Nicole Burrows to the likes of Taylor Gebhardt, Kennedy Frink, Marjorie Dehm, Erin Nagle, Lexie Pastore and Jaclyn Hingre.
Yet the Bees began the season short-handed, as Gebhardt and Frink both suffered injuries during the pre-season, which included scrimmages against reigning state Class B champion CBA, East Syracuse-Minoa and Penfield.
What’s more, the first two weeks of the season included six games, which included Tuesday’s sectional final rematch with C-NS and a state finals reunion with Farmingdale this Saturday afternoon at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium.
Before all that, though, B’ville had to open Monday night at West Genesee, and the deposed six-time champions from 2007 to 2012 showed how determined it was to regain the crown by defeating the Bees 16-3.
With 17 seniors on its roster, the Wildcats had enough going for it without the prime motivation that last May’s stunning defeat to C-NS in the sectional semifinals provided.
Even if Frink and Gebhardt were out there, it may not have kept WG from controlling matters, starting in the draw circle, where Riley Donahue grabbed eight of the first 10 draws, which allowed her side to control possession through most of the first half.