Sue Ellis never worries that her players won’t be able to process the game plan she and her Canandaigua coaching staff devises.
“They’re smart girls,” she said. “They’re not just going to these (colleges) because they’re good lacrosse players. They’re competitors on and off the field.”
The Braves are just as likely to compare their grades on a calculus test as they are team statistics. That competitive drive, combined with talent and a ton of experience, makes Canandaigua a favorite to repeat as Section V Class B champion and take another run at a state title.
Canandaigua has 12 seniors and almost its entire roster back intact from last year’s state runner-up squad and is the No. 1 team in the Democrat and Chronicle’s first girls lacrosse coaches’ poll this spring. Brighton is No. 2 and the Braves’ biggest threat for the Class B crown. Canandaigua plays No. 3 Pittsford (4-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at McAvoy Park in Irondequoit.
Don’t let the Braves’ 4-3 record fool you. Two of the losses were to high-powered teams from Maryland on a spring trip and the other was 10-8 to Syracuse-area power, West Genesee.
Seven seniors expect to play in college: Twins Kendall and Lauren D’Amore (Pennsylvania), Janae Guy (Canisius), Macy Marafioti (Duquesne), Rachel Olson (Niagara), Dakotah Savitcheff (Albany) and goalie Amanda Yavorek (Edinboro).
Savitcheff (80 goals/25 assists), Kendall D’Amore (52/25/70 draw controls) and Lauren D’Amore (50/22) are top scorers, and Jordan Johnson is among other returning veterans whose goal is to take the final step. Canandaigua was tied with Long Island’s Garden City 6-6 at halftime last year but lost the state title game 13-8.
Ellis, whose teams have won three sectional crowns in the past four years after stopping Brighton’s run of 11 straight, thought her defense, including Olson, Guy, Dana Garbinski, Maddie Rice and Kristen Wallace, made strides on the spring trip. She also can look to three different goalies: Yavorek, senior Devan Olschewske or junior Rebecca Vanleaken depending on the situation.
“They’re all versatile and have different strong points,” she said.