Girls Lacrosse: Teams adjusting as new season nears

  • Julia Frappier, center, of Granby, moves the ball against South Hadley defenders Corryn Moroney, left, and Siobhan McAllister, during 2019 girls lacrosse action. After two years, the sport returns to Hampshire County at the high school level this week. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Intern
Published: 5/3/2021 7:43:02 PM

The spring season is finally underway for local Western Massachusetts high schools. Lacrosse has begun practice, with games set to begin later this week.

“It feels great to be back,” said Granby girls lacrosse head coach Allie Roy. “It is still upsetting though that we didn’t have a season last year. We felt that we really knew the team we had and this year, it feels like I’m coaching a completely new team.”

The new season does bring new problems for several programs, including Granby and Smith Vocational. Granby lost one senior last year to graduation, but due to COVID-19 concerns, several players opted to sit out the spring.

“Right now, we have lost about five to six players,” said Roy. “It was more a ripping the band-aid off kind of moment for me. I had a lot of things planned for this year and I was not expecting that to happen.”

Smith Vocational had been pushing to have a girls lacrosse program for the past three years. The Vikings were finally given the green light to play against other schools this year, but so far have not had the number of players needed to field a team.

“I’ve only had about four girls show up for the team practices,” said Smith Vocational athletic director Jeff Lareau last week. “We had parents pushing for these teams the past three years and we finally got into the league. I had so many kids that were interested last year, and this season, I’m just not getting the same amount of interest level.”

Smith Vocational was expected to compete in the Suburban League, with other teams such as Chicopee, Granby, St. Mary’s and Monson. The season seems like it will be a wash for Lareau and Smith, but the athletic director expects to compete fully next year.

“I talked with the principal (last week) and we are not going to just get rid of the program,” said Lareau. “We’re going to try again next year. We may not be put into a schedule now, however, which means that we will have to go back to independent for two years, but that usually is not an issue because those leagues are always looking for games to pick up.”

The spring season will be the first to have a postseason at the high school level this year, however it will be very different with teams having the choice to opt-in or not regardless of record.

“Each school had the option to participate for this year,” said Belchertown head coach Stephan Corbin. “If we follow the rules and do everything we are supposed to, we should be playing lacrosse into July.”

The new postseason format, which is only happening for this spring, has left varying opinions throughout Hampshire County. Roy said she finds the format a bit puzzling.

“Your team can go 0-10 and still make the playoffs if you want to,” said Roy. “It’s not a ‘qualifying for the playoffs’ style anymore. You can just opt-in when you want to, which is crazy to me.”

Girls lacrosse will also follow more of a boys format in that they will play four quarters instead of two halves this spring.

“I think if anything, it is to give the players some breathing time,” said Roy. “This was something the league was pushing for and if COVID never happened, this would probably have still happened.”

Massachusetts did release new guidelines early last week, saying people do not have to wear masks outside if social distancing is possible. Regardless of the news, girls lacrosse seems to be keeping the original format it had planned for COVID safety.

“Even though the state is making changes, I don’t know if they will filter down to us,” said Corbin.

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