The work that goes into winning just one title, Amherst, Lancaster and Mount St. Mary understand six-fold.
Keeping up appearances doesn't cut it for these three girls lacrosse programs, who come into 2011 having won six consecutive postseason titles.
For Lancaster coach, Julie Buccieri, the message is the same every year. "I tell them just because you play for Lancaster doesn't mean we're going to win a championship. You have to work, get better, you have to focus. Signing up to play doesn't guarantee you anything. It's a struggle to stay on top."
It's a struggle the Redskins have overcome as the six-time defending champions of Section VI Class A. Amherst knows the feeling as it won Class C the last four years and Class B the previous two. The title in the Monsignor Martin Association continues to go through Mount St. Mary with a six-pack of titles.
The undeniable leader at Lancaster is senior Brittany Delano, who has signed to play lacrosse at Niagara. She's coming off a season in which she had 27 goals and 13 assists. Otherwise, the Redskins are young with three freshmen and an eighth grader in the starting lineup.
Freshman Allie Stewart, on the varsity since seventh grade, brings a ton of potential. "When she was young, she stood out on our Lady Monsters youth league," said Buccieri. "She has good footwork, athleticism, she's a strong shooter and she's starting to become a better leader on attack."
Lancaster, currently leading Class A, is off to a 5-1 start with its only loss coming last week at Fairport in the snow.
Amherst has tapped into the past to move its program into the future.
Kristy Grossman, a 1998 All-WNY player for the Tigers, takes over as coach. She played lacrosse at Canisius College on scholarship. Grossman succeeds Janet Battaglia, who won an impressive 10 Section VI titles in 12 seasons with a career record of 174-36. In her tenure, Battaglia had eight NCAA Division I players, two in Division II and 15 in Division III.
"It was a time for change on many levels. The program is strong, with many focused kids playing and I think there is lots of potential for this group to move on in regional competition this year or next year," said Battaglia. "I had the wonderful opportunity to inherit a program strong in tradition, to coach many great kids, meet so many great people, and had terrific experiences within the coaching years. It was a bittersweet, yet timely change."
On the field, All-WNY attack Sophie Niesciur is the school record holder for goals in one game (eight), season (74) and assists in one game (11). She has signed with Division I Binghamton. Junior midfield/attack Ivy Timlin is the last of the three Timlin sisters. Her two sisters are playing at St. Bonaventure. Ivy leads the team in scoring with 17 goals, giving her 110 in her career. The Tigers are off to a 4-0 start.
Unlike its public school counterparts, Mount St. Mary has taken a different approach to its half dozen titles.
"I feel like our school is unique because we're pulling students from a district that has no lacrosse. My girls come here they've never touched a stick, they come in freshman year and want to try it," said coach Marissa Dauria. "I have about 50 try out a year, and you hope in a year or two they can make the varsity. It helped in our attitude toward [winning] they know they have to put the work in to get to that next level."
Dauria said she feels fortunate to have good athletes who pick up the skills very quickly.
Among them is senior Jenny Grimm, an All-Catholic attacker who had five goals in the 15-11 win over Nardin in last year's championship gmae.
The skills senior Emily Terranova developed as the goaltender on the Monsignor Martin ice hockey team serves her well as an attacker. Senior goalie Shauna Murphy is coming off an All-Catholic season and Gabby D'Aquiar started every game last year as a freshman.
The Thunder is 4-1, its only loss coming to Aquinas, 13-8.