A year after coming within a whisker of winning a state title, the Guilderland girls lacrosse team is preparing to make another run at it.
There's high expectations this year, said coach Gary Chatnik. "We lost a lot [to graduation], but we return a lot."
The Lady Dutch won't have the likes of Amanda Best, Bridget Daley and Danielle Tetreault to help them score goals this year. What they will have is a group of veterans that contributed to the offense last year led by Erin Mossop, Kelly Camardo and Kristen Cagino.
"They're going to grow through the year," said Chatnik. "They have the talent to be a great offensive team. They just have to develop the confidence in their abilities."
As the offense gels, Guilderland's defense will be counted on to help win games early in the season. That shouldn't be a problem, though, as the Lady Dutch will have several veterans in the backfield led by senior goaltender Amanda Santandrea.
"The defense and the goaltending will be very strong," said Chatnik. "Santandrea is the best goaltender in the league, in my opinion."
Guilderland's defense will be tested early on. The Lady Dutch open their season against a Niskayuna squad that Chatnik said will be one of the best in Section II, and then they face Bethlehem in their first Suburban Council game next Tuesday. It's the first meeting between the two neighboring schools since Guilderland defeated Bethlehem in last year's Sectional final.
Chatnik said the tests won't end there for his team.
"It's going to be a very open [Suburban] Council this year," he said. "I think Colonie and Shenendehowa will be improved. They both have great coaching and a lot of talent coming back. Shaker is going to be very good, Saratoga is always strong and Bethlehem returns just about everybody."