Just as you would expect a Girls Greater Catholic League team to do, the Mount Notre Dame lacrosse team jumped right into their spring schedule April 1 facing a tough opponent in Division II state runner-up Indian Hill.
Despite having four experienced players away on a retreat, the Cougars prevailed 10-8.
“They gutted it out,” Coach Russell Mackey said. “It was a very good win. They’re a good team. I’m really proud of our defense.”
A year ago, MND finished 15-4 and 6-0 under Mackey in the GGCL. Two of their losses came to eventual Division I champion Sycamore, including the season-ender in the regional finals.
Returning starters are seniors Moriah Flynn, Rachel Rein, Ali Wiethe, Leah Haverkos, Caroline Warning, Sam DeVore, Lauren Adams and Nicole Crace plus junior Kelsey Beitman. In goal for the Cougars is sophomore Dorie Coggin with senior Jess Burris also closing in on 200 career saves.
Warning, Rein and Flynn are Cougar captains.
“They truly leave their egos at the door and are focused on becoming better players themselves and doing what’s right for the team,” Mackey said of his squad. “They’re the most unselfish group of seniors I have yet to coach at MND.”
Flynn has been a rare four-year player for Mackey with several others in their third season. Rachel Rein and Sam DeVore are on schedule to break into MND’s top 10 list in career points.
Per usual, the MND schedule is a juggernaut as they began with an overtime win at Ursuline, a loss at Worthington Kilbourne and the win over Indian Hill before battling Loveland. Games coming up are road contests with Springboro April 16 and Olentangy April 18. They return to their new field April 21 against McAuley.
“There’s a lot of parity in the league this season,” Mackey said. “We’re pretty pumped up about this year’s team.”
Katie Post has a tough act to follow in her second year as the girls lacrosse coach at Indian Hill High School. Last year, the Lady Braves made a valiant run through the tournament and finished as the Division II state runners-up at 17-4.
Among the returning players from that group are senior attack Gabi Gibson, senior midfielder Mackenzie McMillan, senior midfielder Ashton Irvine and junior midfielder/defender Rhian Horton. McMillan and Irvine are captains, with Horton serving as junior captain. For the future, replacements are in the wings as a big freshman class came out and there’s some promising sophomores.
Indian Hill jumped right into the fire this season as they began with Division I regional finalist Mount Notre Dame April 1. In a back and forth game, the Division II Lady Braves fell short 10-8.
“We have a very tough opening schedule,” Post said. “They are mentally and physically tough games. That’s kind of the way it fit in for us. I think it’s definitely a way to come out of the gate to face tough competition.”
One of the scoring leaders for the Lady Braves is the tall and slender Gibson, who uses her tennis background in flinging shots quickly toward the net.
“She has an uncanny ability to make it into the goal sometimes,” Post said. “When I don’t think it’s going to go in, it somehow manages to go in. That’s Gabi’s signature. Some people under-estimate her.”
Ahead are home matches with Ursuline April 18 and Summit Country Day April 20. Ideally after that, the team would like to go on another run to build up tournament momentum.
“It’s not easy,” Post admitted. “They got a taste for it last year. We’ll see what happens this year.”
Players to watch
Moriah Flynn, senior, Mount Notre Dame: Committed to play in college at Marquette
Sam DeVore and Rachel Rein, seniors, MND: Both on pace to being in the Cougars’ top 10 in scoring.
Gabi Gibson, senior, Indian Hill: Prolific scorer for Lady Braves.
Mackenzie McMillan and Ashton Irvine, seniors, Indian Hill: Senior captains for Katie Post
Rhian Horton, junior, Indian Hill: Junior captain at midfield/defender