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"Experience, experience, experience."
So says Jefferson Forest Lady Cav Head Coach Stan Golon in describing this year's version of the team. A look over the roster validates the coach's assessment.
For starters, Forest returns its front line of Brittany Gallagher, Cameron DeWitt and Taylor Duff. Not only did the trio lead the team in scoring last season, they also nailed 16 (of a total of 17) game winning goals for the squad. They do just what you want your forwards to do: they score and they score often.
Gallagher was a machine last year, as she drove home 29 goals. Word is that ODAC reps are taking a good look at the senior.
DeWitt, a junior, scored 21 goals while adding 13 assists. A tireless worker, she has already stood out this year on Forest's cross country team and in indoor track. You know she has the endurance.
Duff, also a junior, put up 15 goals and 15 assists (team leader). She is known as a feisty, yet unselfish player.
Gallagher and DeWitt were first team All-District selectees last year and Duff made the second team, so it's tempting to think that the Lady Cav forwards define the team. However, the squad looks strong throughout.
In the midfield, second All-District team selectee, Brigid Benincasa will be joined by Shelby Peterson to direct traffic from the middle. The duo complement each other well: Benincasa is more defensive focused while Peterson is more likely to blast away on offense. "They're both good, solid and give us great technical play," said Golon.
On the flanks of the midfield will be junior Marlee Flynt and sophomore Sarah Knox. Flynt is probably the most powerful on the inbounds throw, not surprising given her swimming pedigree.
Knox has good speed, is a renown as a team player and brings a great work ethic to the fore.
The Cav defense is just as strong as the other lines. Anchoring the backfield will be senior Jaime White, a very strong player, who is a natural leader. "She can light the team on fire with her play," remarked Golon.
White will be joined by Jordan May whose superb leadership and example earned her selection as a team captain, despite the fact she is only a junior, a rarity for the Lady Cavs. Other captains are White and Benincasa.
Gracie McNally, up from last year's JV, will join White and Benincasa. Golon described McNally as "tough as nails." The fourth defender is Nikki Jannah, a stellar cross country runner. Both Jannah and DeWitt might be looking for a bit of payback when Forest plays Heritage, with Laura Rapp, the District cross country champ.
Suzanne Sciarrino, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury, will make the Cav defense even more fearsome when she returns to action. Jennifer Steele is nursing some injuries, as well, and should add even more to the backfield when she gets back into action.
Golon has two solid options at keeper with senior Whitney Bonheim and junior Dorothy Nugent. Both are proven performers between the pipes and assistant Dr. Tom Eppes is working with both of them to get even better.
There are also five freshman on the varsity, an oddity for Forest, but a portent that the program may stay at the top of the Seminole heap for some time.
Golon's objective's are fairly simple: Win both the Seminole regular season and the tournament, as the Lady Cavs did last season. He would also like to see the team advance well into regional play. How the new Region III configuration (dropping River Ridge, adding Southern Valley and Massanutten) aids or hinders that goal remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, Golon wants his charges to come out of the blocks faster in opening up each half of a game than they have in the past. Against Cave Spring, recently, the team did just that as Duff drove home a goal to open the second half in a hard-fought 4-1 loss.
Additionally, he wants the ladies to focus on the details, knowing that such a focus, teamed with talent, is the stuff that championships are made of.