(March 22, 2019) The Stephen Decatur Lady Seahawks are passionate about the game of lacrosse. They are coachable and getting better every day, according to Coach Sara Braniecki.

They’re working so hard. They’re playing a fast game, which will help us produce [on offense] this year,” she said. “They’re learning every day and, since they’re so coachable, they’re making improvements quickly.”

Thirteen of the 18 girls on Braniecki’s roster competed last year when the team finished 7-7. The season ended in the 3A East Region Section II finals.

“We definitely have a lot of speed and versatile girls in the midfield this year, and good ball handlers and smart players on offense,” the fourth-year coach said. “On the defensive end, we have some work to do, but we have some solid leaders down there to make it come together.”

Senior captains Kennedy Duke and Logan Townsend will lead the group.

“They’re awesome. They’re great leaders,” Braniecki said. ‘They’ve been on varsity four years, [and] they’ve gotten a lot of playing time and they have a lot of experience. They’re just really good people.”

Both girls received Bayside Conference South Second Team accolades for their performances during the 2018 season.

Duke has been a starter on defense and playing in the same position since she was a freshman.

“[Playing] with different people [over the years], I’ve seen how we can work well together, [and] talking is a big thing,” Duke said. “Me being on varsity for four years, it’s going to be good to communicate with the girls [and tell them] what I’ve seen, and what I’ve gone through and what they can do.”

While Duke holds down the defense, Townsend will help run the midfield.

“Me and Kennedy have been on varsity for four years, so we’ve really been able to see how the coaches work, how varsity works, how the plays are being done, so we kind of got the knowledge” and experience to lead the team, Townsend said.

“I think this year we’re going to mesh really well together,” she said. “We have a lot of older girls, plus new girls, and we have a lot of diversity that I think will really work together this year.”

Also returning are juniors, goalie Isy Kristick and midfielders Abby Yesko and Sarah Engle. All three earned Bayside South First Team honors in 2018.

Engle led the team in points last year with 40. She scored 27 goals and had 13 assists.

Junior Alyssa Romano will return in the midfield. She was presented Bayside South Second Team distinction in 2018.

Junior Elizabeth Dutton is also back on the field for Decatur and will play on the attack.

Braniecki said newcomers, freshmen Emma Meyer (defense), Darby Moore (attack) and Meredith Eitel (defense), sophomore Taylor Barrett (midfield) and junior Katie Mitchell (attack), have done well so far.

“It’s such a great group of girls. The [veterans] have taken the younger girls under their wing,” Braniecki said. “They’re passionate about the sport and they want to have the best team possible.”

Braniecki said there are several goals the group would like to achieve this season. The Seahawks want to dominate the Bayside South and compete for a conference championship, and have as strong run in the playoffs.

“If they work hard every day we can do all that,” she said. “I’m really excited. I’ve got one of the best group of girls I could ask for.”

The camaraderie among the players will be beneficial.

“I think we’re all friends and we all get along on and off the field, which helps us because we know each other personally and through sports. That will make us gel and work well together,” Duke said.

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