A strong program kept getting stronger.
Cathedral High School’s girls lacrosse team, long one of the state’s top programs, remained that way in 2018 in Mary Ann White’s first season as head coach – and the result was a strong regular season that moved the Irish in position for yet another postseason run.
“We’re definitely in the place we want to be,” White said. “You always can improve and always can get better.”
The Irish, Indiana High School Girls Lacrosse Association state champions in 2015 and 2017, rolled through the 2018 season in impressive fashion. They had a 13-3 record when the ’18 regular season ended – with no losses to teams from Indiana.
They entered the postseason No. 1 in the IHSGLA rankings, then won the Sectional 5 title on May 16 with a 9-3 victory over Bishop Chatard. The Lady Irish advanced to the final two days earlier with a 24-1 victory over Center Grove.
“We had a talented group of kids,” White said, saying that the Irish took the approach of, “We have a lot of skill and a lot of hard work and grit. But we’re not really defending a state title when we’re bringing a whole new team into the arena. We are just as much working for it as any other team and just because you’ve won in the past doesn’t mean you’re a shoo-in for now. We can’t get lazy.”
The strong regular season came in White’s first season as Lady Irish head coach after two seasons as an assistant. White, who played collegiately at Wittenberg, graduated from Cathedral and was the Lady Irish’s team captain in 2010 and 2011.
“It’s gone well,” White said. “I have an awesome team of really talented players. A lot of these girls have worked with me for a year or two or three. It’s been great to see them grow and develop and they’ve been super supportive and so helpful to me. We have an awesome coaching staff that’s really involved, so it’s a pretty special position.
“It makes it easier to do my day-to-day job when the program is very established. We’ve had some excellent coaches the last three, four or five years who have really made headway into making certain things just the way that we do them. I’ve definitely made a few things my own and made some head-coaching choices, but a lot of things are just how our program runs and it’s what we expect of our athletes, and that makes it an easier transition, too.”
Senior captain Kate Burnside capped a standout career with a strong senior season, scoring 107 regular-season points with 22 assists. Burnside registered 85 goals, including an 11-goal game in a March 27 victory over Hamilton Southeastern.
“She’s an excellent player – I would say the best in the state,” White said of Burnside, who will play collegiately at the University of Colorado-Boulder. “She’s an incredible athlete. She has done a great job of spreading the ball and passing to others, and making other players better. That’s when we play our best, is when we share the ball and pass around and keep the pace of the game high.”
Senior captain Megan Mattei scored 20 goals with 16 assists in the regular season, and White called her “a really strong leader verbally and by example.” Senior defender/midfielder Gretchen Reeves scored 17 regular-season goals with nine assists, senior Isabella Page scored 25 goals, junior Katherine Schmidt scored 15 goals with five assists, freshman Sophia Grigson scored 16 goals, junior Courtney Lucas scored 12 goals and senior Elle Musto scored 13 goals.
White called Reeves a “key contributor for the past three years,” adding “I don’t know where our team would be on the field without her.”
Junior goalie Abigail Vastag was key to a strong defense that White said also was led by senior Meredith Kutan and senior captain Emily Howard, the latter of whom has developed into a leader and strong defender throughout her high school career.
“She’s developed exponentially every year,” White said of Howard, who will play collegiately at Depauw.
White called Vastag “just a star in the goal.”
“Goalie’s a hard position to play,” White said, “and she has done an excellent job of growing into this position and have a strong mentality.”
The Irish’s lone losses entering the postseason were all to out of state teams, with their average margin of victory over Indiana teams a little more than 11 goals per game.
“I just think the level of lacrosse in Indiana can be elevated immensely, and I think it’s important for us if we’re looking to be the top team in the state and we’re challenging ourselves to be as good as those around us,” White said. “It’s always a work in progress.
“There are things we can improve on, but I think as of today we’re in a good place and we’re developing in the right direction and at the right speed to be where we want to be.”
Editor’s note: Because of printer deadlines, the entire postseason results of the Cathedral girls lacrosse team were unavailable at press time. For information on the Irish’s postseason girls lacrosse team for 2018, please visit gocathedral.com.