Hamburg has a young group this girls lacrosse season but like any program that's accustomed to success there are expectations. The five-time defending Section VI Class B champion Bulldogs want to make another run the crown.
"That's always the plan," coach Katy Ryan said. "I think it's definitely a goal of the team and the senior class."
The Bulldogs have seven seniors and they all start. That includes Lake Erie College-bound attacker Meagan Maxwell (19 goals, 32 points). Addy Wright has 28 goals and 33 points. Wright and top defender Julia Feuerstein are in their fourth seasons. Another returning starter to keep track of is junior Emma O'Neil. Tara Geary and Anjali Silverheels are freshmen who have worked their way into the starting lineup. Hamburg has four freshmen and seven sophomores on the roster.
Niagara Wheatfield is among the Class B rivals looking to dethrone the Bulldogs. Arriana Smith leads the Falcons in points (30), while Marissa Markott is their top goal scorer (20). Tiffany Cristofinelli has 18 goals.
West Seneca West is in that conversation, as the Indians are off to a 7-1 start under coach Sara Raniero. Claire Purdy has 18 goals and 35 points, while Sammi Keane has 20 goals and 32 points. Paige Cocina has 17 goals and 27 points.
Class C update
Lake Shore appears to be the hunted in this classification. Amherst has the Eagles in its sites as last year's sectional runner-up had nine returnees who played in that 14-9 defeat. That includes seniors Camryn Sullivan (20 goals and nine assists) and Hannah Smith (22 goals and eight assists).
West Seneca East, which moves down from Class B and boasts nonleague wins over Hamburg and Niagara Wheatfield, is led offensively by Laura Skrzypczyk (32 goals, 38 points) and Grace Vogel (28 goals, 36 points). Both combined for 150 goals last season with Skrzypczyk notching 90 of them to go with 42 ground balls. Vogel also had 51 ground balls.
Grand Island looks to be in the mix following a season in which it lost in the Class B semifinals to West Seneca East by a goal. Of the 16 returnees for the Vikings, 12 are seniors with Robert Weslyan-commit Alyssa Maxwell leading the attack with 25 goals. Gannon commit Hayley Latvala and goalkeeper Emma Schultz anchor the defense. Freshman Lydia Sweeney has flaunted play-making ability with a team-high seven assists.
Sweet Home (2-8) is young under third-year coach Rick Schmitt but has flashed signs of its future potential. The Panthers have had a couple of games with four-goal leads that they let slip away as they've lost three times by three or fewer goals. Renae Lauer is Sweet Home's top scorer and a great athlete, Schmitt said. Ashleigh Hildreth is the goalie, while three of the five freshmen have earned starting roles. That includes twins Raven and Autumn Williams and Ashley Whitehead.
Alexis Skowron, who has 50 goals, is one of 12 returnees for Iroquois. Alex McBride has 24 ground balls. Three sophomores who are having good seasons for the Chiefs: Meghan Porzio, Ally Gordon and Erin McLaughlin.
EA makes history
The newest addition to the classification roster in the section features five teams with East Aurora improving to 6-0 in the Class D league and 9-2 overall with a 5-4 win over second-place Eden on Tuesday.
That win enabled the Blue Devils to mathematically clinch their first division title in history as they have two wins over the Raiders.
EA has 10 returning starters from last year, including Allison Kasprzyk who has 65 goals this season and 119 for her career. She's 19 away from matching the school record in that category. Kasey Kmicinski, one of the senior captains, is a versatile player who can play offense or defense. Fellow classmates and captains Emma McNallie and Kacie Pierce, a goalkeeper, anchor the defense. Sophomore midfielder Fiona Kavcic (14 goals) is new to the team and leads EA in draw controls.
The other teams in Class D are Gowanda, Salamanca and Springville.