Photo by Christine Troyke
SUWANEE -- Jennifer Hennelly knows what pressure feels like and she knows how to handle it.
After all, as just a sophomore and junior, Hennelly served as captain of the girls lacrosse team for Peachtree Ridge.
"We didn't have any seniors when I was a sophomore, but we had juniors," said Hennelly, the Daily Post's girls lacrosse player of the year. "It was difficult because we had people older than me, but at the same time I knew the most lacrosse so they still respected me."
Hennelly began playing lacrosse in middle school with her club team and continued to work hard and learn the game. Coach Michael Thomas said even though Hennelly is a student of the game, there are times when he feels Hennelly knows more than he does.
"She is a good player and she understands the game very well and she is very competitive," Thomas said. "Overall though, she is a great person to be around and people respect her for her work ethic and determination."
Hennelly contributes her knowledge of the game back at practices to younger players, while also trying to learn from more experienced lacrosse athletes.
"I started playing in seventh grade and by just going to practice and playing with kids who have played since elementary school, I learned a lot faster," Hennelly said. "I just kept playing and stayed with it and played club and then we got a varsity team so it all worked out."
Hennelly led the Lions to their most wins, 11, this past season as she posted a team-best 83 points, 77 coming on goals. She also had 22 groundballs while winning 36 draw possessions to earn her second straight second-team all-state selection.
"We improved as a team all over the place and we won the most games in school history," Hennelly said. "I was proud to be part of it."
With the big numbers Hennelly posted in her junior year with the Lions, she earned a spot to play on Team Georgia, a team of all-stars from around the state that competed in a national tournament at the end of May. Although Hennelly served as a defensive player in the tournament, she helped Team Georgia earn its first win over Minnesota. The team then tied Western New York.
"Well every year, Team Georgia hadn't won a game and this year we won and tied a game that we should have won," Hennelly said. "We were the first team to do that, so it was an awesome thing.
"And to get to play with the best players was an experience and to play defense the whole time was a nice change from what I was used to."
Now with the summer months ahead and her senior year looming, the time has come for the young lacrosse standout to improve her skills and build her goals for the next season and beyond.
"Next year I want to keep up what I'm doing and get more assists and to get better stats," Hennelly said. "I would like to play at least Division III in college if I can get an offer."