Franklin Regional girls lacrosse finding its stride as players gain experience
By: Shawn Annarelli
Friday, April 26, 2019 | 6:50 PM
Franklin Regional junior midfielders Noelle Boyd and Christina Hodowanec believe they need to have fun to be successful.
Win by 8? Lose by 12? Play into overtime?
Smile. Learn. And move on.
Their twist on the mentality that athletes have to win to have fun is leading to more of both for Franklin Regional’s girls lacrosse team after a rough start to the season.
One year removed from a run into the PIAA playoffs, Franklin Regional’s girls lacrosse team has undergone a transformation. The Panthers lost eight players to graduation and returned three healthy starters.
To those on the outside, it might seem like a rebuilding year for the program. For those on Franklin Regional’s team, they believe they can have fun learning what it takes to win at the varsity level and make the playoffs.
“The playoffs are still our goal,” coach Mackenzie McGuire said. “If they continue to show improvement they’ve been showing, they have a real chance to get into the playoffs. We are young, but the growth from the beginning of the season to now is noticeable every day.”
The beginning of the season was a little bit more of a three-player show.
Surrounded by a mostly new team, junior goalie Kendra Delissio, Boyd and Hodowanec were looked to by their teammates to make the bulk of the plays. The game-to-game outcomes were erratic, with the Panthers blowing teams out or vice-versa, which prompted McGuire to hold a meeting.
Her message was clear — be unafraid to make mistakes, trust yourselves and believe in each other.
“I think when you get to the varsity team and you don’t have a lot of experience you just don’t start off with a lot of confidence,” Hodowanec said. “That was expected. You don’t really find where you stand and how good you really are until you play with confidence.”
Boyd and Hodowanec, who are Franklin Regional’s top scorers with 48 combined goals, approached their coach after the meeting to discuss being more than the team’s stats leaders.
“This year is different than the other teams I’ve been on,” Boyd said. “We needed to be here to have fun and not worry about mistakes. That will make it easier for everyone to learn. That will build confidence. I think we’ve found the balance between hard work and fun, and it’s working for us.”
Franklin Regional has won three of its last five games, including a one-loss nail biter against Hampton, the two-time defending WPIAL champion.
“Hampton was up 3-0 in the first six minutes, I told them we gotta get out of our heads,” McGuire said. “It wasn’t until they really played all out that they saw they could hang with Hampton. I think that’s the first time the whole team believed in themselves, too.”
The month of April, Boyd and Hodowanec said, has been a big step forward for everyone who is in their first year on the varsity team.
They feel it’s because they’ve put having fun first.
“We love to chat with the other team, and we love to make friends,” Boyd said. “Having fun makes us better. We have to be positive. We’re young. We’ll make mistakes, but we don’t want to break ourselves down. We want to build ourselves up.”
“That’s just how our team works,” Hodowanec added. “If we’re having fun, we’re probably doing good.”
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