The time to enjoy their view from the top is over for Jackson girls lacrosse.

The time to enjoy their view from the top is over.

The Jackson Polar Bears reached the Division I girls lacrosse state semifinals for the first time last season, and the task in front of them is maintaining that place among the best in Ohio. The 16-3 mark the team finished with after a loss to Upper Arlington in a state semifinal and six key seniors are gone, and another difficult schedule remains.

“Due to the large number of seniors that graduated last year, this is an entirely new team,” third-year head coach Elizabeth McCormick said.

“I am fortunate to have strong players that are stepping up. At the same time, I don’t want the players to focus on last year’s success, but instead concentrate on the basics and take one game at a time. If we’re able to do this, I think we’ll be a serious contender in Division I girls lacrosse this year.”

Graduation losses aside, the cupboard is anything but bare for the Polar Bears. Multiple Division I and II recruits populate the roster, led by senior standout Anna Seanor. The Ohio State recruit earned U.S. Lacrosse All-America honors as a junior and will anchor the midfield. Fellow seniors Mary Manos and Sarah McCormick (Walsh University) will join Seanor as the foundation of the midfield and provide the support for attackers Madison Sirpilla and Jacelyn Litman up front.

Senior Madsen Thomas (Shenandoah University) is another of the team’s college recruits and will anchor the defense.

Although the roster has undergone changes, the new pieces put in place have coach McCormick focusing on a versatile, aggressive approach based on the team’s depth and athleticism.

“I have a seasoned attacking unit that is not only able to challenge any type of defense but also has the athleticism to pressure the ball when there is a turnover and the opposing defense is trying to move the ball into their scoring end of the field,” she said.

The toughest opponent on the schedule thus far has been the weather. Snow, persistent cold and poor field conditions have kept the team off its usual outdoor practice field. Training indoors has limited the drills and exercises the team can do.

McCormick is anxious to get her team outdoors and develop a clearer picture of how the Polar Bears’ new faces will fit into the mix. New rules limiting the number of players allowed in the area during draws also will change the way teams are able to attack and the third-year head coach is expecting a transition period for her players.

“This year will present some new challenges due to rule changes and due to the mix of seasoned and new varsity players, there will be a learning curve in players recognizing each other’s strengths and weaknesses so we can adjust our game accordingly,” McCormick said.

How a team handles success is an indicator of its personality and maturity and so far, the indicators are largely positive when it comes to the players’ focus and drive to continue their success from last season. McCormick noted that overall, the team’s level of physical conditioning has improved from last year.

“The players that were part of the team last year are extremely passionate about continuing the competitive growth and success of our program,” she said.

To keep the varsity sharp, the coaching staff will challenge its junior varsity players to step up and push for varsity playing time. Newcomers Morgan Furbay, Olivia Sirpilla and Mackenzie Floyd are expected to contribute as reserves, and fellow sophomores Anna Giulitto and Claire Misbrener could see expanded roles this season.

Reach Andy at 330-580-8396 or andy.harris@thesuburbanite.com.
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