Freshman phenoms providing spark for Stow girls lacrosse

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Stow-Munroe Falls Bulldogs

STOW — When it entered the season, Stow-Munroe Falls girls lacrosse had only three seniors on its roster.

If the Bulldogs wanted to compete, they were going to have to find some new talent, especially up front.

Luckily for the Stow coach Mike Sheehan, he knew there were some new faces in the pipeline.

Two freshman have literally picked up the ball and run with it for the Bulldogs.

Attack Kenzie Gash and midfield Amber Shinsky have both played huge roles in another season of double-digit wins for the Bulldogs, as the season rolls towards its end.

The two freshmen — along with a big game from senior mid Jessi Kyer — led the Bulldogs to a 16-2 rout of Louisville Saturday at Ron Marhoffer Auto Field.

Gash has been, well, gashing Bulldog opponents from the moment she stepped on the field.

"I knew about Kenzie since she was in sixth grade," Sheehan said. "You could see she was athletic from the start. This was a pleasant surprise how well she's adapted to this level."

Gash announced her presence with a five-goal outburst vs. Boardman is Stow's season opener and hasn't stopped scoring since.

The Bulldogs' leading scorer notched four goals against Louisville, though she was denied a bigger goal haul thanks to some nice saves from Leopards keeper Ali Meckel.

Along with a tenacious nose for goal, the diminutive Gash brings the element that can't be coached: Speed.

On more than one occasion vs. Louisville, Gash took the ball in Stow's end and sprinted through the Leopards' defense all the way to the goal.

"That's her game," Sheehan said. "She really knows how to work it in transition."

If Gash is Stow's new thoroughbred, Shinsky is the Bulldogs' new workhouse.

For starters, Shinsky has taken over as Stow's draw specialist. Her dominance in the center circle (12-6 in face-off wins) was a major reason for Stow's dominance in possession against the Leopards.

When Stow didn't have the ball, Shinsky is at her most active. She used her 5-foot-10 frame to intercept Louisville passes, harass opposition players and generally be a nuisance.

"She has really stepped up for us," Sheehan said. "She does a great job in the center. She brings it every time she plays. She plays all 90 yards for us."

Shinsky didn't find the goal vs. Louisville but she was credited with two assists.

Of course, young pups need guidance and that's where Kyer comes in, according to Sheehan.

Kyer erupted for five goals in the win over Louisville, which she noted just happened in the flow of the game.

Kyer's chief role in midfield it provide pressure on offense and defense.

"That's the position of middie in a nutshell," Sheehan said. "That part of the game has always been her forte."

Sheehan noted the Mount Vernon Nazarene recruit has been the backbone of her team all season.

"She's knows the season is winding down," Sheehan said. "She's our leader. We go as Jessi goes."

Kyer was going hard throughout the win, as Sheehan joked her neon green headband made it easy for him to track his captain.

While Gash and Kyer scored half of Stow's goals vs. Louisville, the Bulldogs also got a hat trick from junior Brooke Moon, two goals from junior Cailah Nguyen and one goal each from Audrey Allendorf and Emily Owens.

Stow outshot Louisville 34-6, Stow sophomore goalie Grace Stidham had a solid game with four saves including a pair of stops on free shots.