This wasn’t a normal season for Cathedral High School girls lacrosse.
No, 2019 was difficult – with many lessons learned. But Irish girls lacrosse coach Mary Ann White said none of that made it a lost season. Far from it.
“It was a growing year,” White said.
The Irish, long one of Indiana’s elite high school girls lacrosse programs, entered the season knowing it would be a rebuilding season with an eye on the future. It became just that, and the Irish finished with an 8-11 record.
The Irish beat Park Tudor in the sectional semifinal before losing 12-10 to Brebeuf Jesuit in the sectional final on May 22.
“It was a bit of a tough year,” White said. “We lost more games than we have in the past, but I think it’s crucial to our development. We’re growing a lot, and we still have a lot of room to grow and develop. We knew going in it was a different team.
“We had to rely on each other a little more than we had in the past. We have a whole new group of kids, so it was difficult to who to trust and who to look for in different parts of the game.
“So, it was very much a learning curve.”
The Irish not only dealt with youth, they also handled multiple injuries to key players throughout the season. But it was the lessons learned dealing with aversity that White said will benefit the Irish moving forward.
“We learned a lot, and we’re on a good track,” White said. “We’ve come a long way from the beginning of the year. We cleaned up our level of play and sharpened our skills.”
And after playing timid at times early in the season, White said the young and growing Irish grew confident as the postseason approached.
“We set the stage for something bigger and better,” White said. “Losses define our character. We got a little complacent winning so many games for so many seasons in a row and it took a little bit of losing some tough games. It takes a couple of losses to be like, ‘Wait a second.’
“It helps makes you realize, ‘We are not just going to win because we’re Cathedral lacrosse and we’ve been good. We have to work to be good.’ I think it’s good for our younger player so see other sides and hopefully we’ll bounce back from this and we’ll remember were we came from that you can never get too comfortable. And too complacent.
“You always have to work for what you want and where you want to be.”
The Lady Irish in 2019 were led as expected by senior captain/midfielder Kate Schmidt, senior captain/goaltender Abbey Vastag and senior captain Meg Walker.
Schmidt remained a player whose presence was felt on the field, and White said Walker remained a “quiet leader” who “made sure everything was in order and that we kept possession.” Vastag overcame an offseason concussion and kept the Irish in many games.
“All my captains stepped in as leaders,” White said. “We were the best when we played together, looked for assists and looked for the next pass. When we tried to do everything by ourselves, we were not successful so relying on teammates was huge.”
Junior attacker Laine Webster led the Irish with 30 goals and 12 assists while senior Kayla Kendall added 22 goals and six assists. Junior Meghan Klenke had 20 goals and eight assists, and Walker added 16 goals and 10 assists. Schmidt had 16 goals and four assists.
Vastag has 118 saves with a save percentage of 44.7 percent.
While the senior captains led throughout the season, the legacy will be the players who return. And White said she is optimistic those players will grow from the 2018 season.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who are not just looking to develop during the season but outside of the season,” White said. “That will help us in the long run – having that commitment to the program and learning to play with each other and really enjoying each other. I’ve got girls who really love the sport and are just coming into the program. That’s exciting to me.
“If you just look at wins and losses as what fulfills you or makes you happy as coach, you’re not always going to be satisfied. Having players who love the sport or who come to me at school outside practice and want to learn more and want to do better want to watch film – they’re always wanting to be the best version of themselves as people and athletes. That’s the most important thing to me.
“Yes, I like to win. Yes, it’s fun to win. But at the end of the day, I have kids who like each other and who want to be on the field. I love to get Ws in postseason, but the program is strong if we build upward and I think we’re building upwards.”