The Lake Norman girls' lacrosse team came into the season expecting to be one of the best in the Charlotte area.
First-year coach Chris Schiemer and the Wildcats achieved that goal by going 10-3 overall and a perfect 6-0 to win the Conference 7 title with a team that included 22 freshmen and sophomores among its 28 players.
The youthful Wildcats also advanced to the NCHSAA state quarterfinals before falling 12-10 to Providence.
"We made a lot of progress as a team," Schiemer said. "The seniors and freshmen really gelled together. We have a lot of young players who give this team an even brighter future."
Never miss a local story.
Hough (9-5, 4-2 ) also had a great start, in the school's first year. The Huskies - who had no seniors - made the playoffs, where they also lost to Providence.
North Meck and Hopewell's lacrosse programs struggled this year; the Vikings and Titans fought admirably to keep their teams alive after the opening of Hough cut their rosters in half.
Girls' lacrosse player of the year: Taylor Vaccaro, Lake Norman
Taylor Vaccaro had never been a part of a varsity lacrosse game. But like her coach, Vaccaro didn't seem intimidated in her inaugural season, as the freshman midfielder netted six goals in only her second game of the year against North Meck.
Vaccaro continued her stellar play throughout the year, scoring a team-best 46 goals while dishing out 12 assists.
"Taylor has got great stick skills, and she sees the field better than most players," Schiemer said.
While Vaccaro's 2011 season was one to remember, the best thing is that she has three more years to lead the Lake Norman lacrosse team to new heights.
"Obviously, her future is very bright," said Schiemer.
Girls' lacrosse coach of the year: Chris Schiemer, Lake Norman
Chris Schiemer hadn't coached a girls' lacrosse team before this season.
But the first-year Lake Norman coach caught on quickly, guiding the Wildcats to their first conference title as a NCHSAA-sanctioned team and the deepest playoff run in their short history.
Schiemer, also a coach with Lake Norman United Club, hopes this is just the beginning of his team's success, as most of the Wildcats will return next season.
All-Lake Norman girls' lacrosse team
Ericha Hartz, Lake Norman: Wildcats' emotional leader scored 20 goals and had seven assists.
Melanie Rabozzi, Hopewell: Senior standout led struggling Titan team.
Katie Wright, North Mecklenburg: Attacker helped lead a Viking team depleted by numbers.
Taylor Vaccaro, Lake Norman: Freshman already tops on her team with 46 goals.
Rachel Valocchi, Lake Norman: Another major freshman talent with 21 goals and a team-best 25 assists.
Bailey Leonard, Hough: Former Hopewell star led Hough with more than 40 goals.
Nicole Day, Hopewell: Titan standout will play at Presbyterian alongside Rabozzi next year.
Elizabeth Koehler, Lake Norman: Senior co-captain never came off the field for her team.
Morgan Freese, Hough: Leader of young Hough team does a bit of everything.
Roseanna Schiemer, Lake Norman: Freshman played all over the field for Wildcats, leading team in ground balls.
Lisa Stiles, Lake Norman: Senior co-captain anchored a suffocating Wildcat defense.
Kourtney Jones, Lake Norman: Sophomore has a bright future with youthful Wildcats.
Julia Colburn, Lake Norman: Another defensive stopper who is only a sophomore.
Tyler Dykes, Hough: Kept young Huskies in big games all year and will be able to do so for next three years.