Niagara Gazette — There is a new standard for the Niagara-Wheatfield girls lacrosse team.
They experienced success in the Niagara Frontier League last season, and are now shifting more focus toward augmenting their play against Class B opponents.
The Falcons finished 10-7 overall a year ago, which included winning the NFL with a 7-1 league record. But their season ended in the quarterfinals of the Section VI Class B playoffs, losing to West Seneca West, 19-8.
“Our goals, NFL is a part of it, but I would say our main goals are just continuing success in Class B,” fourth-year Falcons head coach Kristen McGuinness said. “Kind of learning how to compete with those teams and then move on just playing well with them all season and being ready then for postseason play.”
Having graduated only two seniors after last season, the team returns seven seniors and 10 of 11 starters from 2012. With that, the Falcons are well-positioned to get further in the postseason this year.
“The team’s coming in with a lot of confidence from the 2012 season and the success that we had in that,” she said. “And then just coming in a little bit older and with experience in the offseason will definitely help us move ahead this year.”
The lone starter N-W loses is defender Mackenzie Oddo, who was the 2012 Gazette Player of the Year and now plays on NCCC’s team. Senior co-captains, midfielder Laura Messer and defender Kayla Markott, will be looked upon to help fill the void left by Oddo.
McGuinness sees Messer as equally important on both ends of the field, considering her a well-rounded player. On top of her standout defensive play, she was the Falcons’ second-leading scorer in 2012.
Also returning for the Falcons is junior Marissa Smith, who led the team with 31 goals a year ago. Expected to complement Smith on the offense are junior midfielders Madelyn Gansworth and 2012 JV leading goal-scorer Allison Rickard.