Girls Varsity Lacrosse
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2016 scholastic lacrosse preview: Led by Franklin, Exeter looks to keep girls title
Senior goalkeeper Leah Franklin, the 2015 Berks Player of the Year, is back in net for Exeter, which will try to win its second consecutive league title in girls lacrosse.
For the boys, can Wilson's stranglehold on the league finally be broken? Berks Catholic, which lost just one senior starter from last year's team that fell 13-12 to the Bulldogs in the title game, might have something to say about that.
Those are two of the five things to watch this lacrosse season.
1. Franklin's a force
An Exeter girls program that went undefeated in the league and topped Gov. Mifflin 12-7 in the 2015 championship game lost significant defensive talent to graduation.
That's why Eagles coach Jill Rudy is particularly happy to have the steady presence of goalkeeper Leah Franklin. The coach said she believes the senior will provide leadership on and off the field.
"She will command the defensive unit this year, as she has a very good read of everything that is happening back there," Rudy said. "We are looking to her to help mold and direct an almost completely new defensive unit.
"Leah will play a huge role in our team success as she gains more confidence and is willing to play out aggressively ."
Franklin is one of three returning All-Berks players for Exeter. All-Berks midfielders Lexi Einsig (55 goals) and Maryn Hubiak (47) and all-division attack Jordan Kotas (24) were the team's top three scorers last year.
The Eagles' challenging non-league schedule, which includes Cocalico, Cumberland Valley, Owen J. Roberts, Kennard-Dale and Penn Manor, should help them prepare for the postseason.
2. Wilson's run
The Wilson boys have won 50 straight BCIAA games and four consecutive league titles, the last three under coach Bill Hughes.
But his team just got by Berks Catholic 13-12 in last year's league championship game, and will be without 2015 Player of the Year Connor Howell, who graduated, and four other All-Berks or all-division players from a year ago.
That could put the Saints in position to end the Bulldogs' dominance, especially with 11 players back who were either All-Berks, all-division or honorable mention selections last season.
"I expect us to be in the top three in the league and be strong in the playoffs," said Berks Catholic coach Kurt Small, the 2015 Berks Coach of the Year.
Attack Bobby Cressman and midfielders Oliver Hanley and Tanner Pajakinas return after being named All-Berks last year for the 17-3 Saints.
Wilson, 17-5 a year ago, won't be devoid of talent, especially with All-Berks attack/midfielder Adam Close and goalie Jason Roland among its returning players.
"We have a lot of great leadership coming from our seniors and some youthful energy pushing the older players," said Hughes.
3. Mark your calendar
April 26 could provide a lot of excitement. That's when Berks Catholic's boys visit Wilson in an interdivision matchup that could be a preview of the BCIAA title game.
But while the two teams will be battling tooth and nail on the field, there also will be some important off-the-field activities.
The day has been deemed Headstrong Day, with proceeds prior to and on game day going to the Headstrong Foundation.
The foundation was started in memory of Nick Colleluori, a defenseman at Hofstra University who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2005. He passed away in 2006 and his family set up the foundation to inform the public about the disease and raise money toward treatment and research.
Wilson coach Bill Hughes noted that the school is hoping to have a speaker from the organization as well as recognize members of the community who are fighting or have fought the disease.
Looking ahead to the playoffs, the BCIAA semifinals for boys and girls will be May 10, followed by the championship games May 12.
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