Staff report

The Western Reserve Academy girls lacrosse squad finished the season with a 10-9 record under first-year head coach Annie Neill.

Several Pioneers earned postseason honors. Recent graduates McKenna Polak, Maggie Wise, a Hudson resident and Ashleigh Groves (Hudson) and senior Hannah McKenzie (Hudson) were named to the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Association's Lake Erie Region team.

Polak and Wise were named to the all-tournament team at the association's annual championship event.

Wise was named the team's Most Valuable Player after scoring 44 goals to go along with eight assists.

"Maggie's field sense and ability to think three steps ahead has made her a standout player," Neill said. "Her tenacity on 50/50 balls, her quickness off the circle and her countless checks were admired by her teammates and feared by her opponents.

"In practices, Maggie never hesitated to pull a teammate aside to offer helpful tips, because she knows that the success of a high school girls' team begins with relationships and support."

Sophomore Julia Gasbarre earned the Most Improved Player award.

"Julia will continue to develop into a powerhouse lacrosse player over the next three years," Neill said. "Her raw talent and athleticism have allowed her to step into a starting role as a midfielder this year.

"Julia was often at the center of our draws, coming up with the ball in the messiest bundles of sticks, kilts and elbows. Her hands improved with every game and her reach kept us in many games. Julia understands lacrosse and our team's system, which allowed her to support her teammates across the field."

The Coaches/Spirit Award was presented to Polak.

"In every huddle, McKenna would take a step back and I noticed that it was important for her to see her team," Neill said. "She read their faces and she reached out to them when needed. She was not showy in her support, but was constantly behind the scenes keeping our seams together.

"McKenna is also a skilled player who kept us in games this season, scoring seven goals in two different games. Of the 177 goals our team scored this season, McKenna buried an impressive 72 of them. Her selflessness, support and talent will be a challenge to replace in the years to come."

Next season, Neill and assistant coach Susan McKenzie will rely on the leadership of seniors Zoe Leciejewski, a Hudson resident who 10 goals and four assists, Emily Winson (five goals and 10 assists) and Sarah Forhan (15 goals and three assists), a Hudson resident; junior Cristen Barnett (13 goals and six assists); and Gasbarre and sophomore Annemarie Bobinsky (four goals).

McKenzie and Forhan will serve as co-captains of the 2015 squad.


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