East Penn Press

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DON HERB/FILEPHOTO Sam Abel scored 36 goals for the Hornets last season and will be an offensive leader. DON HERB/FILEPHOTO Sam Abel scored 36 goals for the Hornets last season and will be an offensive leader.

DeBellis takes the reigns for girls lax

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 by TODD KRESS Special to the Press in HS Sports

Two years ago, the Emmaus girls lacrosse team captured both the LVC title and District 11 championship.

That was Nancy Debellis's first season as an assistant coach on the team.

This year DeBellis is in her first season as head coach, and the Hornets will look to once again reach those heights.

"We'd like to go through LVCs and the districts," said DeBellis. "That is our goal, to get into that first round [of state playoffs]. Hopefully we can build from this team and get in that first round and get a win.

"That's what you always want [and] that's what you strive for. We are young, but I see the talent there."

They'll have to do so without a number of key pieces from a year ago; both goalie Allison Haas and attack Nicole Schmidt are two players who have left and will leave voids to fill this season. The Hornets went undefeated (12-0) in league play during the regular season in 2012 and finished with a 15-6 mark overall.

But DeBellis believes a number of returnees are ready to take on that challenge.

"We lost a good group of girls, but there's some real good young talent coming up," said DeBellis. "So I'm excited to get on the field and see where we are. More girls now are going to have to step up."

Juniors Sami Abel (36 goals, five assists) and Dakota Walch (23 goals, two assists) are the top returning scorers from last season's team and will be looked upon to provide leadership on the attack.

Senior captain Kaitlyn Willis, juniors Kiera Godusky, Joanna Hawkins and Kayla Mack, and sophomores Emily Ehrlich and Tara Tracchio all figure to have a part in the offensive production as well.

"We have a young group, but I'm pretty excited," said DeBellis. "I can't wait to get on the field and see where we are and move things around as we see."

Defensively, a number of captains - seniors Shauna Poling and Madison Schantz - intend to anchor the Hornets' unit. Senior Shannon Fichter will have a large hand in what the Hornets are looking to do defensively as well.

"I think we're ready," said DeBellis. "There's some good, positive energy with the girls. They're athletic and they're learning a little bit of a new system. We still have the old system there, but they're learning a little bit more on the offensive end and the defensive end with some schemes and things like that."

One of the main changes from a season ago is replacing Haas, a four-year goalkeeper for the Hornets. Junior Sidney Wilson, a newcomer to the team, and sophomore Rebecca Petrohoy will battle it out to replace Hass.

The Hornets will open their LVC schedule on Wednesday against Liberty.