Getting off to a good start has been commonplace for Lake Norman High’s girls’ lacrosse team, but it hasn’t resulted in a good finish.
That may change this season, as the Wildcats have knocked off two defending state champions and a defending regional champ during their 8-0 start (through games of March 24).
Between March 10-14, Lake Norman beat two-time defending S.C. High School League 4A champion Greenville J.L. Mann Academy 20-9, defending N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A champ Charlotte Catholic 14-11, and Georgia High School Association 6A Area 3 champion Alpharetta Chattahoochee 15-8.
“We wanted to give them a test,” Wildcats coach Christopher Schiemer said. “We didn’t know what we would do, or what we would have at the beginning of the year.
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“We’re starting a bunch of freshmen and sophomores, especially on defense, but they’re doing a great job. They make the stops, and we get the ball moving. We outrun all the other teams, and on the other end we’ve got a bunch of girls who can finish.”
Over its first eight games, Lake Norman has outscored its opponents 133-49, with only two matches – the wins over Charlotte Catholic and Chattahoochee – decided by fewer than 10 goals.
On the offensive side, the Wildcats have five players who have scored 10 or more goals, led by junior attacker-midfielder Carly Vaccaro. Vaccaro, an early commit to Tampa, has 40 goals and 18 assists, both team bests.
Also scoring in double digits this season are senior attacker Michella Chester (19 goals, 15 assists), junior midfielder Julianna Dworschak, a West Point commit (17 goals, 12 assists); sophomore attacker/midfielder Kieran Rinaldi (14 goals, eight assists), and junior attacker/midfielder Vanessa Grauds (11 goals, one assist). Senior attacker/midfielder Jordyn King, a Meredith signee, also has eight goals and 14 assists.
“It’s brought us together,” Vaccaro said of Lake Norman’s start. “It made us realize how well we work together. We’re all just so happy, we want to keep working together and beat every team.”
Defensively, sophomore goalkeeper Korina Kempthorn has made 48 saves in eight matches, including nine saves each in the Wildcats’ wins over Charlotte Catholic and Chattahoochee.
“It’s kind of been some redemption,” Kempthorn said of the win over Catholic. “I knew we could do it, but things never aligned. But this game, it all came together. The defense played amazing, and it all worked out.”
The Wildcats’ victory over Charlotte Catholic had more meaning than just another notch in the win column. It was Lake Norman’s first in five tries, and avenged losses in the quarterfinals of last year’s 4A playoffs and the semifinals of the 2013 playoffs.
“We look at Charlotte Catholic as having set the bar,” Schiemer said. “We’ve been chasing them for years, but we’ve been working hard – the girls worked hard in the fall, and worked hard in the winter.
“If they work together and play together, and play like they have the past few games, they’re not going to have any limits. It’s all up to them now … doing what they know they can do.”
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.