The Lake Norman girls’ lacrosse team experienced the ultimate feeling of joy two seasons ago when they beat Cardinal Gibbons 17-15 in 2015 to win their first NCHSAA state championship.
However, the tables were turned one year later when Cardinal Gibbons got their revenge, beating Lake Norman, 18-14, to win the 2016 NCHSAA state title.
But while Lake Norman lacrosse coach Chris Schiemer and his Wildcats finished last season with a bittersweet feeling, just minutes after the loss , the team huddled in the locker room and vowed to push forward.
“Losing in the state championship game was definitely a tough loss to take and we had a lot of seniors to say goodbye to in that moment,” said Schiemer, now in his seventh year as the Lake Norman girls’ lacrosse head coach. “But even in the locker room that day, right after the game, our players were saying next year starts now. We we’re already talking about summer ball, winter ball and what we were going to do to get better. Right then and there, we all talked about how our goal was to get back to the championship and win it this year. I told them they need to do it for themselves, to prove this team can win a championship.”
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We are playing for more than ourselves. We are playing for Lake Norman.
Schiemer’s players has the same emotions.
“Our team is very well put together and very close like a family,” Lake Norman High senior attacker Kieran Rinaldi said. “Even in the tough moments right after that loss that hurt, we were already looking forward. We knew we had it in us, because we’ve done it before.”
“Right after that game, we knew what we had done wrong and we knew how to fix it,” said Lake Norman junior midfielder/attack RosaLee Schiemer, coach Schiemer’s daughter. “We’ve already been scoping out Cardinal Gibbons this year, because if we get a chance to play for a championship, we know it probably go through them.”
This year’s Lake Norman girls’ lacrosse team hasn’t wasted any time turning the page to 2017 as they are off to a perfect 11-0 start, outscoring their opponents 169-70.
The Wildcats are nationally-ranked for the fourth year in program history at No. 10 in the nation and No. 1 in the state, according to maxpreps.com. Lake Norman is No. 2 in the state according to USA Today’s rankings, behind only Cardinal Gibbons (8-1).
The Wildcats have wins over traditional state powers such as Ardrey Kell, Charlotte Catholic, Weddington. Four of those five wins, excluding Charlotte Catholic, came on the road.
Coach Schiemer has gotten big contributions from all over a relatively younger team; three freshman are in the starting lineup.
Lake Norman also has plenty of veteran leadership with senior attacker Kieran Rinaldi, a Radford University signee, leading the way up with 44 goals and 30 assists, while junior midfielder RosaLee Schiemer, Kennesaw State University commit, leading the midfield with 28 goals, 23 assists, 82 draw controls and 68 groundballs.
Senior Emily Chironna — 17 goals, Butler University signee — and freshman, Kayla Rinaldi — Kieran’s sister, 25 goals, 32 assists, Virginia Tech commit — have also played big roles for an offense, averaging 15.4 goals per game.
Meanwhile, junior Gianna Red Arrow, seniors Carolyn Tuttle and Elena Dworschak and freshman Tara Haas as goalkeepers, senior Korina Kempthorn and sophomore Julia Weimer lead a stout defense allowing fewerthan six goals per contest.
Schiemer says Brianna Hondlik, Brianna Abreu and Madison Conklin have also had their moments.
“To be 11-0 and undefeated with a younger team says a lot about both our younger players and our older girls, like Emily (Chirrona), Gianna (Red Arrow), Kiera (Rinaldi) and RosaLee (Schiemer), who have been great leaders,” said oach Schiemer, who has guided Lake Norman to a 70-10 record in the last four years combined. “We’ve really been able to build a program here, where we’ve been able to have sustained success. But, it’s not always easy being that marked team, that championship team. We remind the girls in every game that they are going to get everybody’s best shot. We want to be at our best in every game from the start.”
All about family
While coach Schiemer knows it all about “a total team effort” in each game, the Wildcats’ success is all about an entire program effort involving Lake Norman High and the local middle school teams at Brawley and Lakeshore Middle.
All of those teams, their players and coaches work together to create a program that few others can replicate.
“We invite the middle-school players to stand on our sidelines in every game and be a part of our team,” Schiemer said. “We also go to most of the middle school games and cheer on the girls. We’ve been doing this for years, so the younger girls feel like a part of a program and something bigger than themselves. That family feeling and culture of our program has been a huge part of our success over the years.”
No one understands that family feeling more than RosaLee Schiemer, who not only plays for her dad, Chris, at Lake Norman, but also is the fourth Schiemer to play for the Wildcats.
Her older sister, RoseAnna, played for the Wildcat girls, while her older brothers, C.J. and Fischer Schiemer, played for the Lake Norman boys’ lacrosse team.
C.J. won a state championship, while both RoseAnna, RosaLee have one state championship to their credit.
RosaLee says winning a second championship would give her the lead in “major family competition,” between the Schiemer siblings.
Kieran Rinaldi, who was also a part of the 2015 state championship team, also says wants to share a state title with her younger sister, Kayla, in what will be their only season together on the team.
The family feeling can also be felt amongst teammates who are not related, but instead a part of the Lake Norman lacrosse family.
RosaLee Schiemer says the family feeling within Lake Norman lacrosse program players, past and present, drives this team every day, whether they are doing extra conditioning or their weekly 8 a.m., Saturday practices.
This team, like the others before them, knows what they accomplish in the postseason will be the standard by which they are judged.
“Every day whether we are at a practice or game, we come together in the huddle and talk about our goal for that day and we always say ‘This is for states,’ no matter what we are doing,” RosaLee Schiemer said. “But I know when we are playing, a lot of us are thinking about the Lake Norman players from the past, too, like my sister, brothers and players like Taylor and Carly Vaccaro (former Lake Norman standouts) for me. Thinking about those people is a huge inspiration and motivation because we are playing for more than ourselves. We are playing for Lake Norman.”
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.