Lady Dolphins Aim For Lacrosse Title Repeat
The clouds were getting dark and rain was about to land on Midwood Field Tuesday afternoon. In the Beach Channel Lady Dolphins’ second game of the PSAL girls’ lacrosse season, the visitors suddenly lost their early two goal lead early and fell behind 4-3 to the host Hornets.
Despite the gloom up above in the sky, Beach Channel, the reigning PSAL champions, wasn’t about to let the weather dictate their play. The Lady Dolphins used their speed and athleticism to score six unanswered goals which proved to be the difference in a 12-8 win over Midwood.
Beach Channel remains a good favorite to repeat as champions after completing a thrilling 6-5 comeback victory against Tottenville last June at the Aviator Complex. And they’re off to a good start this season, going 2-0, with a stellar core of returning players and a few of the 12 new faces on the team playing well according to coach Sam Innes.
“It’s definitely an early test for the girls to prove themselves that they’re still good and have gotten better. They did that today,” Innes said. “Midwood is a good team and I think they’ll be much better than last year all around. We had more speed and we created some better chances today.”
While Beach Channel lost five starters from a team who made school history in 2009, they remain a dangerous team.
Their top goal scorers can wreak havoc on the field. Cynithia Smalls, a senior who led the PSAL in goals last season with 49, was too quick for the Midwood defense and tallied a game high six goals. Senior attacking midfielder Tolagbe Olatunbosun, who added two goals, is the engine who can use her strength to gain good scoring chances and dish the ball effectively to her teammates.
And it’s not just Smalls and Olatunbosun who make things tick for the Lady Dolphins offense. Idalia Viard came off the bench and provided two of the team’s six straight goals to take a 9-4 lead by halftime over Midwood. She can provide timely goals, which was displayed late in the third period against Tottenville to prove to be the game winning goal. Casey Gallagher, a senior, and along with younger sister, sophomore Courtney, will be attacking options in midfield.
“It’s great. It doesn’t put a lot of pressure on one person to score. We have a whole bunch of options,” Smalls said. “We have a good connection on the field .We know how to pass it, where to pass it, where they want the ball and we got confidence in each other.”
Kiara VanBrackle, who graduated and is now playing club lacrosse at Syracuse University, is one of the top defenders Innes will have to replace. But they do have plenty of options remaining.
Whitney Brown, a junior, returns as a strong defender who can muscle out opponents and has shown a flair at times for scoring a goal. Jasmine Hamlet, a teammate of Brown and Smalls on the varsity basketball team, becomes a new starter. Tierra Holes will also be a starter.
Innes keeps the approach that his team still considers themselves underdogs, but readily admits Tottenville, along with Curtis and Frederick Douglass Academy (Manhattan) are some of the teams will provide tough competition for the Lady Dolphins.
Olatunbosun is still adjusting to the fact that rest of the PSAL will be trying to stop them from repeating their championship.
“It’s crazy to know that every team is gunning for you and every team wants to take away the title from you,” Olatunbosun said. It’s just a matter of us strengthening our rookies and try to make sure everyone is solid.”
But the senior thinks the team’s good chemistry is one of the main factors that the Lady Dolphins the confidence they need to believe they are once again vital contenders for a city title.
“When we were getting here on the bus, we passed by the field we won the championship. We’re like ok, now we got something to play for,” Olatunbosun said with a smile.