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Region One girls lacrosse and softball start season with full squads

FALLS VILLAGE — Girls lacrosse and softball both have an unusually large number of players this spring at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.

The spring sports season began on April 4.

There are 25 freshman girls playing a spring sport, a sharp increase from the 15 from a year prior.

“The classes that are coming in, both the sophomore and freshman class, have large numbers of female athletes. We saw this in basketball, we saw it in soccer,” said Region One Athletic Director Anne MacNeil. “It’s also thanks to the upperclassmen talking up the sports, which really makes a difference too, particularly with girls lacrosse.”

Over the past two years, the girls lacrosse team has had unpredictable seasons. In 2020, the season was canceled due to COVID-19, and in 2021, the team could only schedule five games due to more COVID-related complications.

This spring, with a normal season ahead, the girls lacrosse will have a roster of 26 players, the most the team has had in recent years and almost double the 15 athletes on the team last year.

“Just having [substitutions] is such a luxury. It’s going to allow the more experienced players to take breaks if they need to, and that’s a luxury we didn’t have last year,” said Head Coach Laura Bushey. “Also, the new players are incredibly skilled. It’s a really athletically skilled group.”

For lacrosse, there is a lack of “feeder programs” — youth leagues where athletes can learn and play the sport before entering high school.

Absent prior experience, the high school teams have to focus on the sport’s fundamentals before moving on to more specialized skills development.

With the arrival of a large group of underclass athletes — in this case 11 freshmen — the team will have a core group to develop over the coming years.

“I literally only have only two girls on the team that played when they were young. All the others started as freshmen or sophomores. That’s wonderful and also challenging because teams that we play against, like Watertown, have a huge feeder program,” said Bushey. “To me, that’s one thing I find so fun about [coaching,] watching them learn from the very very beginning, but it also makes it challenging.”

For softball, the total roster size grew from 27 members last year to 28 this year. However, like lacrosse, the majority of this year’s team is underclassmen — nine freshmen and six sophomores. Peter Foley, who can usually be found on the basketball and baseball benches as an assistant coach, took over this season while Head Coach Kaleigh Selino is on maternity leave.

“[With a large freshman and sophomore class] it’s good to have senior-led leadership show the girls how  to act and how to play and how to get ready for games,” said Foley.  “It’s good for the [underclassmen] to see, so in the future you know how to build.”

Both lacrosse and softball played on opening day, April 4. Lacrosse started its season on the road, playing Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield.  The team’s home opener comes on Friday, April 15, against Watertown High School.

The softball team opened the season at home against Thomaston High School.

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