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Nothing ‘lax’ about Wildcat lacrosse

POSTED: March 8, 2018 3:58 p.m.
Ted O'Neil/

Richmond Hill's Katie Snyder avoids two defenders while teammate Vivi Bayens watches during a recent game.

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While the term “lax” is often used as a shorthand for the game of lacrosse, its official definition means careless or negligent. Anyone who has seen them play knows that the Richmond Hill High School lax teams are not lax.

The girls’ team is in its third year and the boys’ teams its second in one of the fastest growing and fastest moving sports in the country.

“There is definitely a growing interest in the sport,” said Rachel Steinbrenner, who coaches the girls’ team.

Her team has 36 players, while the boys’ program has 41.

“When I first interviewed for my position at RHHS, they asked me if there were any sports that I would be able to coach,” Steinbrenner recalled. “My response was ‘well, I played lacrosse back in high school, but I know it isn't big down here.’ I was immediately proven wrong when I held my first interest meeting at the beginning of the school year.”

Steinbrenner and Tom Corbin, who coaches the boys, have also helped establish teams at Richmond Hill Middle School.

The sport dates back centuries among Native Americans. While the games are similar, there are distinct differences between the rules for the women’s and men’s games. Much of that is reflected in the accompanying pictures.

While both require skill, the women’s game is more focused on finesse and stick handling, with no contact allowed between players. The woven mesh pockets on sticks that the girls use are shallow, making it harder to pass and shoot at a high velocity and putting more emphasis on ball control. Girls are only required to wear a mouth guard and protective eye wear.

Male players, on the other hand, must wear helmets with facemasks in addition to mouth guards, along with shoulder and elbow pads and gloves. There is far more contact in the men’s game, with checking akin to ice hockey.

Generally, a men’s team will have three attackers who only play offense, three midfielders who can run the length of the field and three defenders who only play defense. Women’s teams generally have four attackers, four defenders and three midfielders. Each has a goalie.

When a ball goes out of bounds on a bad pass, it is awarded to the other team. If a ball crosses the end line on a missed shot, it is awarded to the team whose player is closest to the ball. That is why on a missed shot you’ll often see players running toward the end line with their sticks raised in order to win possession.

Catching and passing a lacrosse ball — made of hard rubber — is no easy task, especially on the move. Coaches often say it requires 10,000 throws and catches to become proficient at it. Players can be seen basically playing catch with themselves against a brick wall to increase repetitions and response.

“We did a lot of wall ball with our girls who were brand new to the game,” Steinbrenner said. “Many have picked it up incredibly fast. Some of our starters had never picked up a stick until this season.”

While the lacrosse teams are currently classified as a club sport, they are hoping to move up to varsity status in the near future. Athletic Director Mickey Bayens said that could happen in a couple years if more schools in the area add the sport.

The rosters for the teams are as follows.

Girls: Kiara Farinacci, Machaela Smith, Jenn Thorpe, Mackenzie DeLanghe, JaLynn Williams, Kyra Byrd, Vivi Bayens, Madison Kight, Daesha Webb, Heidi Marshall, Hannah Mewherter, Olivia Woodworth, Karalyn Defrancesco, Juliann Kavetsky, Madison Rose, Emily Scholar, Sierra Byrd, Makenzie Gleason, Camryn Bierman, Lakelyn Luke, Taylor McGraorty, Erin Gavin, Katie Snyder, Jacey Shanholtzer, Caitlin Boothe, Gali Romero Uscanga, Alyssa Burton, Caroline Branan, Julia Tapia, Eketu McMillan, Faith Stewart, Carmen Edwards, Maya Merced, Kassidy Berry, Sarah Blocker and Sophie Miller.

Boys: Tommy DiMarzio, Jordan Whitted, Jullian Villegas, Will Bodie, Jaques Arlow, Mason Walters, Patrick McErlan, Chase Quinlan, Aden Taylor, Drew Glenn, Evan Gay, Kelvin Leahy, Dale Tompkins, Eddie Mendez, Anthony Tabert, Jake McDaniel, Sean Jury, Austen Wright, John Deuter, Jordan White, Jakob Christopherson, T.J. Mazel, Tim Sengsy, Alex Alcantar, Drake Middleton, Dylan Tsui, Hunter Haynes, Jordan Moir, Nico DeCosta, Justice Knight, Greg Sengsy, Bryce Grimball, Ben Griffin, Cayman Choate, Ulie Bier, Seumas Gordon, Max Freeman, Samuel Kim, Cale Blocker, Jacob Welch and J.D. Gonzalez.

For more information and schedules, see

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