Pope John girls lacrosse team starts season

SPARTA. The Lions aim to approach each game individually, head coach says.

Sparta /
| 26 Mar 2023 | 10:07

The Pope John XXIII Regional High School girls lacrosse team has worked diligently during preseason practices and scrimmages to be prepared for the games that now count in the win-and-loss columns.

The Lions are scheduled to begin the regular season with a home game versus Saint Elizabeth on Monday, April 3.

Head coach Kyla Kelly knows that no opponent can be overlooked this year.

“We are going to approach each game individually,’’ she said. “Every game is an opportunity to show our true potential as a team. We will show up, work hard and not take any team lightly.’’

Key student athletes returning to the varsity roster are senior Maura Elvin; juniors Leah Gerkhardt, Katie McCarthy and Keira Donegan; and sophomores Jordyn Smith, Emily Dyer, Alyssa Trendafilov and Samantha Piotrowsky.

Two freshmen, Serena Lorenzo and Lilly Gang, are looking to gain valuable varsity-level experience this spring.

“Maura and Leah are taking a role in leadership by enhancing communication with the team, setting up off-season stick work and conditioning,’’ Kelly said. “They lead by example and have a positive outlook on the season.

“I will look at all of the returning players mentioned above to be a leader on the team. It is a team that needs to be led with confidence, strength, skill and trust. We will ultimately look to all athletes on our team to be a leader and take ownership of their strengths and weaknesses and capitalize on what they can give to the team.’’

Pope John finished at 9-10 overall and was 5-3 in the New Jersey Interscholastic Girls Lacrosse League (NJIGLL) Colonial North Division in 2022.

The team also advanced to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) State Non-Public Group B Tournament, where it lost to Holy Spirit last season.

Holy Spirit advanced to the championship round of that tournament before being defeated by Princeton Day.

“Our goal for the season is to continuously progress as a team and build strength in the program,’’ Kelly said. “We are still a very young team with a lot of potential.

“Another goal is to help bring the girls to their full potential - structure and discipline equal success.’’

The Lions compete in the NJIGLL Colonial Division along with High Point, Hackettstown, Boonton, Morris Catholic, Lenape Valley and North Warren.

“We are looking forward to great lacrosse games this year,’’ the coach said. “We have two new coaches this season, Stephanie Herte and Nikki Cordes. Stephanie will take leadership in the seventh-/eighth-grade program as well as train our goalies, assist at the varsity and JV levels. Nikki will take leadership on assisting the varsity and JV teams with her knowledge on defense. We will miss (coach) Tara Maguire.’’

Our goal for the season is to continuously progress as a team and build strength in the program. We are still a very young team with a lot of potential.” - Kyla Kelly, head girls lacrosse coach, Pope John XXIII Regional High School