> Ryan back at Hamburg
Hamburg welcomes one of its most accomplished lacrosse players to its coaching staff. Katy Ryan, a 2005 graduate who played at UConn, is the new head coach.
Ryan scored a school-record 75 goals while leading Hamburg to its first Section VI title in 2004. She earned All-Western New York honors for the Bulldogs before heading onto a successful four-year career in the Big East. When she's not coaching, Ryan is an administrative intern in the Division of Athletics at UB.
"For me it's about teaching kids how to play the game the right way, teaching them how to be competitive and have fun while you're doing it," said Ryan.
Two key players have Hamburg off to a 4-0 start: junior Amanda Obenshain (18 goals so far) and sophomore Megan Mikolajek.
> Helmet use voted down
There's a new carding rule in Section VI which is ultimately aimed at promoting safety.
The State Committee already mandates that goggles be used to protect the eyes. The state safety committee wanted to take that a step further, advocating that helmets be mandatory. But the measure was voted down by the state's 11 sections, 9-2.
Section VI was among the sections to vote against it. "The reason is there was a strong argument that if helmets were implemented, the game would become a lot more physical and girls would become more careless with their checks," said assistant Section VI chairman Jeff Bauda of West Seneca East. "It would totally change the whole game."
So instead, a more strict card rule was enacted. Athletes receiving two yellow cards in one game would be issued a red card and would sit the rest of that game as well as the next.
Once a team receives its third card of the game, that team will play shorthanded the remainder of the game. It will lose an additional player each time another card is received.
> Teams talk
Nichols has plenty of incentive to do well in its Midwest School Girls league as it's the school's turn to host the postseason tournament scheduled for May 21-22.
The Vikings return senior captain Marissa Faso, who will play field hockey at Division II Mercyhurst in the fall. Lauren Basil is a four-year starter and returning All-America honorable mention. She's ticketed for the University of Rochester to play field hockey and lacrosse.
Junior Spring Sanders, a transfer from Williamsville East, has been a nice addition to the midfield.
Junior goalie Julia DiTondo had 19 and 22 saves in her last two starts. Emily Janiga and Kristen Winter share the team lead in goals with 17.
Three-sport athlete Haley Welch is out for season after recent foot surgery. She will play ice hockey at Division III Elmira College.
West Seneca East looks to build off winning last year's Section Class B title, its first. Two-time All-WNY selection Julia Suriani has signed with Division II LeMoyne College. She leads the Trojans with 21 goals.
East's roster boasts nine seniors. Becky Kowtun was No. 1 in New York State last year in draw controls. Miranda Czechowski has 13 goals and Danielle Bzibziak has used her ultra hard shot to score 12 goals.
East is off to a 5-2 start with losses to Lake Shore and Hilton. The losses were not a bad thing, according to coach Rick Schmitt, who said up to that point his team had been pressing.
"That gave us a chance to get better. One of reasons we lost we were uptight, we were pressing, they had too high expectation of having to make every play. We lost three-four girls from last year who were key. We have girls who can step up and make that same thing happen."
Clarence is graduating its top two seniors into college programs. Joelle Hartke has signed with Drexel and Jenna Schlagenhauf will join her sister, Sara, at St. Bonaventure.
Otherwise, the Red Devils will field a young squad. The Red Devils kept pace with Lancaster in a recent game before falling, 9-7. Coach Doug Kohler called the game a breakthrough for his younger players.
Nardin returns senior Brianna Robbins, the Monsignor Martin Association's Most Valuable Player. The Gators beat Mount St. Mary twice during the regular season, but lost to the Thunder in the playoffs. Robbins netted 36 goals.
Grand Island returns senior captain Sara Victor, who had eight goals in the Vikings' first two games, and Sydney Dudish (five goals, five ground balls). Maggie DeMarco is strong in the midfield and Courtney Weiser shores up the defense.
> Around the cage
Jenny Piaggione is the go-to player for Williamsville North. The Spartans move up from Class B to A and have a new coach in Jocelyn Hohman. St. Mary's of Lancaster is a first-year program. Marissa Brown is the new coach at Holy Angels. Lake Shore's two toughest players to defend appear to be Vivian Curry (19 goals) and Lauren Scanlan (17). Frontier boasts an experienced lineup with a trio of juniors playing their third varsity seasons: Erin Wilcox, Joelle Kaczmarek and Ashley Brandt-Hunter. Orchard Park captain Emily Fleetwood leads Class A with 30 goals. She will play for Niagara University next season. Lending support in the midfield will be returning juniors Maddie Nowakowski and Carolina Peffetto. Captain Laura Lukowski controls the backfield. West Seneca West's Devin Villagomez is a four-year starter. The Section VI championship finals, which have rotated between the turf fields at Hamburg, Orchard Park and Amherst, moves to All High Stadium this year, located behind Bennett High School on Main Street in Buffalo.