Experienced North Hunterdon girls lacrosse team looks to tap potential

North Hunterdon's Julia Wood directs her teammates as she attacks during Thursday's season opener against Montgomery. Photo by: Jerry Wolkowitz

North Hunterdon’s Julia Wood directs her teammates as she attacks during Thursday’s season opener against Montgomery. Photo by: Jerry Wolkowitz

With all of the bad weather leading into the 2014 girls lacrosse season, North Hunterdon coach Stacy Ditze isn’t even sure how good her group can be.

But one thing she does know is that the experienced group of Lions has untapped potential just waiting to be unleashed as North Hunterdon looks to make it three straight Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament titles.

“With all of the weather we had to deal with, we’re just getting started with this team,” Ditze said in advance of North Hunterdon’s season opener. “But I just think that this team has no limits; we can really do something special this year and I think they’re going to grow with every game we play.”

Ditze is going to rely on a pair of senior midfielders in Julia Wood and Allison Lane. In 2013, the duo combined for 98 goals, even with Lane missing six games with a concussion. Wood was the team’s leading scorer with 60 goals and 18 assists, while Lane added 38 goals and five assists.

Ditze noted that the familiarity that the two have with one another, from playing on the varsity team the past three seasons plays into why they’re so comfortable on the field.

“They’ve been together a ton,” Ditze said. “If we need a goal late in a game, they’ll be the ones we’d look to, but neither of them is selfish. If one is having a good game and the other isn’t, they’ll share the ball and get it where it needs to be.”

Junior Grace Plassche (28 goals last season) will join Wood and Lane in the midfield, while the defense also boasts experienced players. Ditze mentioned senior Amanda Moss, the focal point of the defense, and junior Kelsey Shelofsky, who has been dominant in preseason scrimmages and a wizard in knocking down passes with her stick, as players to watch on the defensive side of the ball.

But turning defense into offense is something North Hunterdon is going to need to do to be successful this season.

“I’m hoping that our transition game will be something we can focus on this season,” Ditze said. “We weren’t running it so well in our scrimmages, but we were just adjusting to some new roles. I think it’ll start to work for us as we get going.”

The Lions should have some youthful energy to mix with the host of upperclassmen, led by sophomore Taylor Danson, who will push incumbent senior goalkeeper Madison Martino. Ditze said that once the season is well under way, they’ll ride the hot hand.

Another underclassman to keep an eye on is freshman midfielder Nicole Perez, who surprised the coaching staff by making the varsity team. Ditze said Perez has shown a great deal of talent for a first-year player.

But North Hunterdon won’t get too ahead of itself at all this season, instead focusing on the now instead of what lies ahead.

“We’re going to take it one game at a time. We’d like to keep the offense and defense on the same page, working together, and continue to iron out the details throughout the season,” Ditze said. “I just hope we can continue to improve our standing in the division and go further than ever into the state tournament before it’s all said and done.”

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