By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)
Months after the Westwood girl’s varsity lacrosse team captured the Division 1 state championship, the Westwood Press and Boston Herald reported that long-time head coach Leslie Frank was stepping-down.
Frank’s departure opened the door for assistant Margot Spatola, who spent the past five seasons with the Wolverines.
“The transition has gone well so far,” said Spatola, who has helped the Wolverines snatch a trio of state titles, dating back to 2012.
“I hope that my coaching staff and I can honor Leslie’s legacy by continuing to push our players to be the best players they can be and to be the best versions of themselves (everyday).”
Westwood, which commences its regular season next week when they visit Bellingham, will enjoy a few more days of practice, along with a pair of play-dates this weekend – weather permitting, of course.
The play-dates will feature some local teams, including Duxbury, Needham and Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), along with a few squads from New York and Rhode Island.
According to Spatola, Westwood’s biggest goal this season is to grow and improve every day. Sure, it sounds cliché, but in order for the Wolverines to enjoy another successful campaign, they’ll need their seniors, including Haley Connaughton, Shea Farrell, Georgia Salvatore and Kelly Doonan to step-up and lead the underclassmen.
“We have nine seniors (on our team) that have exhibited great leadership already,” said Spatola. “We’re fortunate to have such a hard-working, cohesive group of seniors.”
Added Connaughton, “We need to work as hard as we can (everyday). We are each other’s best competition and we need to capitalize on that at practices and in pre-game warm ups.”
Competing against each other every day should certainly help Westwood achieve their daily (and season-long goal), but also assist the underclassmen and new players that Spatola welcomed to the team earlier this month.
“We have a number of newcomers who have the chance to make an impact,” said Spatola. “We graduated 10 seniors from the 2016 squad and Marc is a time for new things to happen.
“We’re looking forward to watching our underclassmen grow under the guidance of our experienced seniors and juniors.”
Following Westwood’s initial contest against Bellingham, the Wolverines will host Needham on Wednesday (April 5th) before visiting Dover-Sherborn the following day (April 6th).
Westwood and Needham have built quite a rivalry over the past few seasons – most times, the two squads clash in the MIAA Division 1 South semifinals or finals.
“Needham is a great team that we always have a friendly rivalry with,” said Spatola.
In addition to an important non-conference meeting with the Rockets, Westwood’s schedule features some additional tough tests against Norwell (last season’s MIAA Division 2 state champion), Wellesley, Lincoln-Sudbury, Duxbury, Medfield and Notre Dame Academy.
Of course, winning the Tri-Valley League is extremely important, too – don’t expect Spatola and her crew to overlook any league foe as they continue to strive to improve and grow each day.
“What’s great about high school sports is that every year is different from the last, and the beginning of the season is very different from the end,” said Spatola. “I look forward to seeing how our team grows throughout the season.”
Added Doonan, “I think our biggest team goal this season is getting to know each other’s style of play. We have a lot of new underclassmen and juniors on the team, and we really need to work in practice on getting to know each others strengths and weaknesses, both offensively and defensively.”
Make sure to stay up-to date with the Wolverines, along with other Massachusetts High School Lacrosse news by following us on Twitter @NoontimeSports and @Mass_LaxHS. This season, Noontime Sports (and NoontimeSports.com) will provide game stories and features on local high school lacrosse.