May 29, 2019

Hun Girls’ Lacrosse Ends Spring on High Note As Win at WW/P-N in Finale Reflects Progress

PARTING SHOT: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Lauren Johns heads to goal in a game this spring. Senior midfielder Johns went out with a bang, scoring four goals in the season finale as Hun defeated WW/P-North 14-7. The win in the May 10 contest gave the Raiders a final record of 5-9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the Hun School girls’ lacrosse team fell to WW/P-North in the second round of the Mercer County Tournament, it didn’t have to wait long for a rematch against the Northern Knights.

A week after the 14-10 defeat in the MCT, Hun traveled to WW/P-North for its season finale and turned the tables on their foe, posting a 14-7 win.

As the Raiders prepared for round two with the Northern Knights, Hun head coach Rachel Hickey sensed that her squad was primed for redemption in the May 10 contest.

“Monday and Tuesday were not great practices and then something clicked on Wednesday,” said first year head coach Hickey.

“There was a complete shift in the way they were practicing in terms of our mentality. They were holding one another accountable and really playing hard. It was really cool to see them rise to the occasion in those two practices. I felt like it led into the way we played on Friday.”

In reflecting on how the Raiders rose to the occasion in the finale, Hickey attributed it to being on the same page all over the  field.

“After the game I told them what I was most proud of them was that we were playing as a team throughout the whole game,” said Hickey, who got six goals and an assist from junior star Ally Cowan in the victory with senior midfielder Lauren Johns chipping in four goals and sophomore Renee Nearing adding two as the Raiders ended the spring with a 5-9 record.

“We were playing as a team on the offensive end, we were playing as a team in transition, utilizing one another with passes, and we were playing as a team on defense. I really felt like it was a whole team effort; they were trusting one another on the field as well.”

By developing a deeper trust in each other as the season went on, the Hun players executed better on the field.

“They started to simply improve by getting to know one another better,” said Hickey.

“They started to learn their strengths and weaknesses and recognize, OK, this teammate needs a good driver so I am going to cut through for her or this teammate is going to pass it to me inside.”

Hickey credited her group of seniors, which included Grace Werosta, Kiera Black, Kendall Nehlig, Caroline Connolly, Jordan DelOrefice, Olivia McNulty, and Brenna Wehner in addition to Johns, with helping her build trust in her debut season at the helm of the program.

“The second I stepped on campus the people I reached out the most to were the seniors,” said Hickey, who coached at Kings College and Wesleyan University before coming to Hun.

“I have been a part of taking over a team before at the college level. I saw the importance of really having the seniors jump on the boat first. I relied on them a lot in terms of communicating the expectations that I was going to have for the season. I felt like, from the beginning of the year, they really jumped on board, which is something I am really thankful for.”

Hun was thankful to have junior transfer Ally Cowan come on board and emerge as the team’s go-to finisher in her first campaign for the Raiders.

“Ally is not just an awesome lacrosse player, she is an awesome human as well,” said Hickey of Cowan. Cowan had 57 goals this season as she passed the 100-goal mark in her high school career.

“She loves the game of lacrosse and I think when you have a natural love for the game, it is natural for you to work hard and to show up on game day. Ally shows up every single day and practices hard and that rubs off on her other teammates as well. She recognizes that when her team needs a goal, she has to step up and she does it, but not in a selfish way. She is the kind of kid who is really incredible to coach. She is always really thankful and appreciative of the time you put in.”

Looking ahead, Hickey believes that her returning players are poised to step up.

“The juniors always playing together, supporting one another and laughing, so I think our team culture is going to be really strong because they are going to be leading it,” said Hickey.

“I am really excited for the juniors as a whole to be seniors next year. We also have a lot of balance in terms of who is returning. I have Rose Denommee on the attacking end and Emily Albanese in the midfield. I have Chessie Ross on defense and I have Ariel Gold in a cage. I have Ally all over the field. We have experience spread throughout the whole field.”

Hickey, for her part, isn’t hiding her excitement about the 2020 season.  “Once the last game was over, I was already thinking, this is what I am going to do next year, this is what I am going to change, this is what I am going to keep,” said Hickey.

“As a coach, you are always thinking about what you can do better and what can you do to make this next season more successful. I am already working on those things; I am eager for next year.”