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Baldwin establishes lofty goals

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Despite winning seven of its nine Conference IV games a year ago, Baldwin fell just short of qualifying for the Nassau Class A girls’ lacrosse playoffs.

This year, with numbers through the roof and an interesting mix of veterans and newcomers, the Lady Bruins are looking to outlast a familiar group of conference rivals that includes Clarke and Elmont.

“We’re coming off a successful year and we’ve had a nice start to the season with so many kids at tryouts,” Baldwin coach Rebecca LaFlare said. “It’s the first time in seven years we had to make cuts. That’s always hard but we started with more than 70 girls. We kept 28 on varsity and the biggest benefit is having full-field scrimmages during practice.”

LaFlare scheduled tough non-league competition to prepare the Lady Bruins for the conference grind. They opened with a loss to Jericho March 19 but showed marked improvement the next time out against Mepham. “The first game was an eye-opener and showed what we needed to work on,” she said. “We played much better in our second game.”

Offensively, Baldwin returned some of its leading scorers from 2018. Senior attack Katie Kallamni not only handles the majority of draws but brings tremendous stick skills and a hard shot, LaFlare said. “Katie’s a huge part of us possessing the ball and attacking on offense,” the coach noted.

Junior midfielder Megan Doyle took her game to another level last spring in just her second year playing the sport. A standout soccer goalkeeper, she won the Unsung Hero award while quickly developing her lacrosse skills. “Megan is amazing in transition and she has major responsibilities at both ends of the field,” LaFlare said.

Sophomore attack Tess Ferguson is already in her third varsity campaign and was voted a captain by teammates. She had two goals and one assist against Mepham on March 23. “It could be her time to shine,” LaFlare said of the talented lefty. “She’s a playmaker with strong passing skills.”

A couple of reserves who thrived last spring are stepping into starting roles. Junior attack Alexa Stegmuller and sophomore midfielder Brianna Benoit provide quickness and the ability to put the ball in the net.

On the defensive side, the Lady Bruins will continue to employ a zone scheme with senior Fabiola Belizaire spearheading the unit. She’s a returning starter who’s the last line of the defense. “She’s vocal and smart out there,” LaFlare said.

Sophomore Kaitlyn Trepeta has excellent footwork, the coach said, and returns to the elbow spot. “She’s better and stronger than last year,” LaFlare said. Up from JV, junior Ava Bendel looks solid in the backer position, which requires following the opponent with possession. “Ava was a midfielder last year and is a good fit for the position,” LaFlare said.

Baldwin’s new goalie is junior Caitlin Jemenes, who also steps up from JV. “She can clear the ball all the way to midfield and she’s not afraid to challenge shooters,” LaFlare explained.