Lake girls lacrosse findings success as new kids on block

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent
Emma Labbe (20) of Lake looks to pass while being trailed by Grace Reiman (44) of Louisville during their game at Louisville on Monday, April 26, 2021.

LAKE TWP.  – When do the new guys – or girls – stop being so new?

If Lake girls lacrosse coach Joya Mitchell and her squad have their say, the answer is this season. The Blue Streaks, one of the newer programs in the area, have gone through the growing pains that come with building while competing with the myriad girls lacrosse powers in the area – some of whom reside in their own league.

Mitchell, now in her third season at the helm following 14 years coaching the Hudson Explorers, has seen the Blue Streaks start the season 9-5 and post some noteworthy wins along the way. She wants her team firmly entrenched in the mindset that they are no longer the new kids on the block.

"I was Hudson's head coach for 14 years and it's a winning program with a winning history that played in multiple (state) final four games, so the goal has been to come here and try to flip our program and culture and to know we're not the new program any more," Mitchell said. "We have skill, we have talent and we want to take our program to the next level. We beat Green earlier this month, which is huge for our program, that was really a big win for us."

Beating a geographic rival they had never been able to beat was a major milestone for the Blue Streaks and Mitchell noted that as an employee in the Green district, being able to lead Lake to a victory against the Bulldogs was a nice moment.

It was, the veteran coach noted, a game in which both sides were aggressive, scrappy and willing to get their hands dirty when it came to battling for loose balls, playing physical defense and fighting for a rivalry win.

Emma Labbe (front) of Lake scoops up the ball in front of Camryn English (32) of Louisville during their game at Louisville on Monday, April 26, 2021.

It was the fourth game in a short span for Lake, but not making excuses is one of the key elements of a winning program and despite that tough stretch, the Blue Streaks were able to find a way to persevere.

"It's super exciting to be where we are and to start with what's probably the best record in program history ... we're moving right direction with our youth program coming along and girls all the way down to second grade who are involved," Mitchell said.

The program, like teams in various sports across the area, state and country, began the year trying to overcome the lingering ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out last season. Mitchell conceded that the result for Lake was a lot of players on the roster who were new to the sport or new to lacrosse at the varsity level.

Stemming from that, the Blue Streaks  have started two freshmen and two sophomores much of the season. Their most experience lies on the defensive end of the field, where seniors Anna Yingling (16 forced turnovers) and Ainsley Jennings (15 forced turnovers) helm a strong unit. Other seniors, such as Mia Bloom, Emma Bridges, Riley Mitchell and Sarah Pindel, have contributed all around the field.

Lake at GlenOak Girls Lacrosse; Monday, April 19, 2021.

Sophomore goalie Angelina Ferrero, whose older sister was the starting goalie two years ago, would likely have been the starter between the pipes last season had it not been canceled due to the pandemic.

"She had never see veracity game until this year, so the first couple of games she was a little hesitant, but her save percentage is going up and she had 14 saves in our game against GlenOak," Mitchell said of Ferrero, who has a 53-percent save percentage and more than 100 saves on the season.

Ferrero has also benefited from players such as Yuengling and Jennings, who have played with each other before and know one another's strengths on the field.

Combine all of those factors and you have a Lake team that is stacking up steps forward and providing evidence to back up that claim that rather than being a new program making its way, it's a group that is able to compete and win against a higher level of competition. There are more steps forward to take – both this season and beyond – but the Blue Streaks believe like they've put themselves in a position to continue their rise.