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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, March 31, 2011
Finding a way to win
By Jordan J. Michael
GUILDERLAND Once again, great players have gone and new talent has arrived for the Lady Dutch lacrosse team. However, one factor remains the same: Guilderland is still the team to beat.
Of course, in sports, any team can lose, but the Dutch haven’t lost to a single Section II opponent in four years. During that span, Guilderland has won four straight Class A championships and two state regional titles.
Girls from Guilderland graduate and move on to play for top colleges Harvard, Drexel, Marist, and Fairfield, among others. Despite the skill that the Lady Dutch loses every year, the team comes back the next season and finds a way to win.
How, you ask? Well, each team has found its own way of succeeding.
At a windy and cold, but sunny, practice on Monday, Head Coach Gary Chatnik focused on the term “success.” The previous four teams had found that success and Chatnik was wondering if the 2011 team could as well. He ponders this fact almost every preseason.
“They need to put themselves into a position to succeed,” Chatnik said of his Dutch players, 12 of them back from 2010 and nine of them rookies. “Once they do that, they’ll succeed,” the coach said.
Circumstances may be a little different this season with just two senior players leading scorer Erin Mossop and defender Jess Marini. Eleven players graduated last year, including the entire starting defense, which frequently acted like a blanket.
“Who can we count on?” Chatnik asked. “We’ve always had leaders who can calm the team down and put us in a comfort zone. Who can take over a game?”
No one in particular came to mind. “We need kids to step up,” said Chatnik. “The players differ in certain ways, but they all know when the season starts. I’m seeing glimpses of maturity.”
The Lady Dutch will be tested right away, traveling to Bethlehem today for a Suburban Council game. Guilderland had scrimmages against Kingston, West Genesee, and Fox Lane over the last few weeks.
“We’ve learned with each scrimmage,” Chatnik said. “There will be more experienced teams in the Suburban Council this year. We have to want the ball and be aggressive.”
Ground balls and draws were a focal point on Monday. New Assistant Coach Carrie Britt reminded the players of the importance, saying that those two fundamentals can “win games” as she went through her demonstrations.
Britt, Guilderland’s junior-varsity coach for the last two years, instructed 19 of the 21 current varsity players when they were coming up through the system. “I teach them that the ball is theirs, “ she said. “Pick it up, take care, and find a safe place. It’s vocabulary with the stick.”
After coaching Shaker for eight years, and losing to Guilderland plenty of times, Britt decided to join Chatnik’s team. Britt told The Enterprise that her fundamentalist stick skills complement Chatnik’s methodical ideas.
“I could never beat Gary because he’s the ultimate strategist,” Britt said. “Now, I put some tools in order and he decides what to do with them.”
For the Dutch, athleticism, stick skills, and familiarity aren’t the issues. Mossop, Marini, Kendall Cietek, Kelsey Michele, Nicole Levine, Michaela Maybee, Kelly Camardo, Brianna Phillips, Amanda VanAuken, Shelby Iapoce, Mackenzie Cietek, and Jess Madsen have all been through the process.
“It’s all about making confident decisions,” said Chatnik. “Every team has to grow to be able to do well and it can take a while to get the feel.”
Following the pattern of the past, a Class A title is the definitive goal for Guilderland, but Chatnik said that the team tries not to talk about the winning streak. “We know that the target is on our back,” he said. “But, we’re working on the basics to build a solid team. It’s game by game.”
Chatnik again mentioned success, and how his young team will try to get there, saying, “You can’t pressure them too much. They’ve all played the game and they want to win. They know how, but they need to grow up as a group.”
Britt, new to the varsity team, but not to the Lady Dutch’s winning ways, said that the players’ greatest fear would be to fail the teams that came before them.
“These girls play ball because it’s theirs, it’s ours,” Britt said. “Guilderland is focused on getting the ball. It’s given them four championships. They just go and get it. If you play for the ball, then the championships will come.”