Two years ago, the Champlain Valley Union girls lacrosse team took the first step toward the top of Division I.
The Redhawks fell to Mount Anthony in the semifinals. It was the first semifinal appearance in 10 years for CVU and the program felt a sense of accomplishment.
“It was icing on the cake that we got to the semifinals,” coach Tucker Pierson said. “That was a huge jump for us.”
Last season, the program took another step. Again the team fell to the Patriots in the semifinals, but this time there was disappointment.
Now CVU is hoping to take yet another step, determined to advance past the semis and into the championship game.
“They are here and pushing themselves to work harder and play better,” Pierson said. “They are ready to go. I think they think that a state championship is a realistic goal.”
The team’s experience in the midfield and on the attack will pace the Redhawks, led by senior captains Becca Provost and Lydia Maitland.
“Offense and midfield, we are going to be a fast team,” Pierson said. “They know the game well enough that they can run it on the field. I am really looking forward to them stepping up.”
The team’s other captain, Fiona Love, and goaltender Ali Wainer will provide stability on the back end, as the group looks to work in a talented freshmen class and adjust to the finicky Vermont spring conditions.
“I think it’s really important getting everyone into positions we are comfortable with, that just takes time,” Maitland said. “It’s important for us to get out and play some games together.”
The team’s greatest strength though is probably their experience. With 12 seniors and juniors, the Redhawks will field a group that has played a lot of games together and walks into this season knowing that they can go deep in the postseason and beat the top teams.
“I am hoping to see the drive we had last year,” Provost said. “We have a lot of the same people as last year, and we have some good freshmen. I think it will be a shock how good our freshmen will be this year.”
In addition, the team has a preponderance of athletes who have made championship game appearances — just not in lacrosse.
“We have two championship soccer players, we have some field hockey finalists, the downhill champion in skiing, gymnastics state champs,” Pierson said. “We have so many cross-sport athletes, we are competitive.”
On top of that, CVU has Pierson, who in her third year as head coach is finding her stride with the Redhawks.
“I think just the consistency of having her for the last three years (has helped). She has a lot of experience coaching,” Maitland said. “She has worked a lot on our footwork and defending.
“I think that has really helped our defense. We work more as a unit offensively. She works hard to have a great team environment.”
With such a solid group to work with, a talented class of freshmen, and an experienced team taking the field, CVU is well-positioned to continue to take strides forward and aim for the state championship.