Brookwood girls lacrosse confident quick start has staying power

LAWRENCEVILLE — Despite being just 4 years old in varsity seasons, a fast start to the season is not a foreign concept to the Brookwood girls lacrosse program.

Just two years ago, the Broncos won five of their first six games and six of their first eight.

However, the team’s current 7-3 start heading into tonight’s Area 4-AAAAAA against Grayson at Brookwood Community Stadium trumps the one from 2012 from more than just a statical standpoint.

That’s because there is a much stronger confidence among the players that this one has more staying power as the 2014 season progresses.

“It really does,” says senior goaltender Brooke Wagner, who has posted a .532 save percentage with 101 saves on 190 shots this season and will play college lacrosse at Tusculum College next year. “This year, I think we’re more of a joined team. We’re really working together really well and we know each other a lot better. (A large senior class has) all been playing since freshman year together. So, we know each other inside and out. It’s a really close-knit group. So, this year, it’s showing on the field.”

True, the team’s chemistry is as strong as it has ever been as Brookwood has made a slow, but steady climb in wins each season, improving from three wins in its inaugural varsity season to eight in 2012 to 10 a year ago.

However, Frank Hedrick, who has coached the team since it started as club program, can pinpoint another key to the Broncos’ early success this spring.

And it’s a key that has the program right on the schedule he’s hoped it would be running at from the start.

“I think the biggest thing is we’ve got a lot of depth,” said Hedrick, who also helped start Brookwood’s boys team as a varsity program before focusing solely on the girls team beginning in 2011. “We have a lot of players who can get the job done. And they’re all coming together as a team.

“Honestly, I figured it would take four or five years to really get this program going. We went 3-15 our first year, then 8-9-1 and then 10-8 last year. So, it’s been a building process each year. This year, I’m hoping we can get to at least 12 or 13 wins.”

And the Broncos seem to be well on their way to that goal, and perhaps beyond, by spreading out production throughout its lineup.

While much of the goal scoring is concentrated up front, with senior attackers Amila Shake and Haley Curtin leading the way with 32 goals apiece, a total of 13 Broncos have gotten into the scoring column this season, with 13 different players tallying at least one assist (led by eight from Jordan Walker) and eight different players in double figures in draw controls, led by 28 each from freshman Avery Freeman and senior Lizzie Cisneros.

That added depth has helped the Broncos make a statement early in the last two seasons with some success on trips outside the state of Georgia.

While winning two of three games during a weekend trip to South Carolina last year helped establish the belief among the players that they can compete on a night-in, night-out basis, two more wins in three games during a trip against teams from Florida last weekend at the Matanzas Pirate Classic in Palm Coast, Fla., has bolstered the team’s confidence even further.

“It’s still a work in progress, but we’re really starting to get some confidence,” Hedrick said. “The (Class AAAAAA) state playoffs is definitely a goal we missed out on last year, and we’d like another opportunity at it.”

To get that opportunity, the Broncos will have to continue their current roll into area play, a direction they seem headed in by winning both their area games thus far heading into tonight’s contest with Grayson.

And their boosted confidence should be a plus as they head on through the heart of their area schedule in the next month.

“I think there’s a lot more (confidence),” said Shake, who has posted four assists, 11 groundballs and two draw controls to go along with her goals this season, and is considering a scholarship offer from Chowan University in North Carolina. “I’m very much looking forward to (area play). We have some really good competition. … I think those are the most interesting games. It’s fun to go against (teams) you (match up well) with.”