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Bethlehem looks to take the next step

The Bethlehem girls lacrosse team is as prepared for the 2010 season as it will ever be.

The Lady Eagles return the majority of their starting lineup from last year's Section II Division I finalist squad, and they've prepped for the Suburban Council season by scrimmaging some of the top programs in New York and Connecticut.

We've definitely had enough experience in terms of our preseason scrimmages to get ourselves ready, said Bethlehem coach Dawn Austin. "We just want the season to start."

The Lady Eagles lost a couple of key players, but not to graduation. Midfielder Kaitlyn Martin is still recovering from a torn knee ligament she suffered during the soccer season, and goaltender Kristina Maksuti did not return to the lacrosse team because she is focusing on soccer, said Austin.

Still, Bethlehem has plenty of veterans ready to lead the Lady Eagles back to the top of the Section II heap, starting with forwards Shirah Fudin and Cameron Caesar, as well as midfielder Michelle Primomo.

"Michelle has taken on more of the goal scoring with Kaitlyn out," said Austin of Primomo. "She handles the ball so well that she can go through double and triple teams and still shoot the ball."

Goaltender Meg Ladouceur, who split time with Maksuti last year, steps into the starter's role this season, and Austin said the senior is ready for the challenge.

"She's been in lots of pressure situations before, so I think she's ready," said Austin.

Pressure was something familiar to Bethlehem in 2009. The Lady Eagles were involved in several one-goal games, many of which they won.

"We definitely experien-ced pressure last year, especially when we were trying to keep a one-goal lead with five minutes left to go," said Austin.

Ultimately, what Bethlehem would like to experience this season is to win its first Sectional title in four years. The last three championships have gone to Guilderland.

"Whether we play Guilderland or some other team in the finals, we want to be back in the finals," said Austin.

Bethlehem gets an early crack at the defending Division I champs when it meets Guilderland next Tuesday in their Suburban Council opener.

"Guilderland was deep on their bench last year, and they have a lot of talent," said Austin. "We'll get to see where we square up with them right away."

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