DOVER, Mass. -- They say everything’s easier the second time around.
That’s a mantra Katelyn Barry has embraced in her sophomore season as the Dover-Sherborn girls’ lacrosse coach. Following an 11-9-1 campaign a year ago, Barry’s Raiders are an impressive 6-2-1 through nine games.
“I think the benefit of entering my second year as a coach is that we can just pick up from where we left off last season,” said Barry, who was also the assistant varsity coach for three years prior to the 2014 season. “It helps because we can just keep moving forward instead of going back and teaching all these new concepts that I had to do last year.”
Having eight returning starters from a year ago can’t hurt either.
One of those players is senior captain Holly Bertschmann, who leads the team with 23 points—11 goals and 12 assists. Junior goalkeeper Emily Ounanian has also been fantastic between the pipes, boasting a 62 save percentage thus far.
But what’s been impressive about the team’s quick start is the fact that D-S only has eight upperclassmen on the roster.
Leading the charge of young playmakers is the sophomore tandem of Maddie Shue (14 goals, 4 assists) and Ali Jordan (13 goals, 4 assists). Defensively, sophomores Emma White (13 forced turnovers) and Emma Hanmer (15 ground balls, 7 forced turnovers) have shined.
“The [sophomores] have done an amazing job,” said Barry. “Last year, they were a little more reserved as freshmen, but they’ve just lit it up this year.”
After a quick 3-0 start, things took a turn for the worse as the Raiders dropped a pair of games in the matter of two days. It was a moment that could have sent the season into a downward spiral.
Instead, the team regrouped and has become stronger since.
Following the slump, D-S won their next three games by a combined score of 45-8. They then took Tri-Valley rival Medfield to the wire, settling for an 8-8 tie in a game that could go a long way in determining the league title.
“I think the losses were a wakeup call,” Barry said. “They were able to regroup and put everything together on Friday [against Medfield] and played really well. It was a game I think they really deserved to win.”
With confidence running high -- the team debuted in the Top 25 poll at No. 25 -- and a schedule filled with one tough opponent after another, the Raiders are poised for a huge second-half run. It’s one that will have the team battle-tested for the postseason and potentially see D-S top 11 wins for the first time since 2010.
“We’re really just trying to take it each game at a time,” Barry said. “I can’t really say I expected this kind of start, but I’m definitely proud of what the girls have been doing and we’re only going to go up from here.”
WEEKLY REWIND: NEEDHAM TRUMPS NOTRE DAME IN INSTANT CLASSIC
Very rarely do we get the matchup we expect when the two top squads in the state matchup. However, Saturday was the exception, as the No. 1 Cougars and No. 2 Rockets put on a show in what could easily go down as the game of the year.
Final Score: No. 2 Needham 11, No. 1 Notre Dame (Hingham) 10
MVP: Needham’s entire defense. Between preseason All-State midfielder Katie Belval’s hounding defense on fellow All-State midfielder Charlotte Allard and goalkeeper Elizabeth Vallantini (9 saves) putting on a clinic between the pipes, the Rockets’ defense really set the ball rolling for the upset.
Turning Point: When Allard’s go-ahead goal with 4:38 remaining was nullified due to a dangerous follow-through. Needham’s Audrey Walsh immediately capitalized with the man-up on the other end.
View our game recap HERE.
Holly Bertschmann, Dover-Sherborn – The senior captain was vital to last week’s 2-0-1 stretch, netting six goals and handing out four assists.
Hannah Dudley, Concord-Carlisle – The Patriots have been rolling lately and Dudley has been a big reason. In two big wins against Westford Academy and Franklin, the junior midfielder scored five times, dished out four assists and won 10 draw controls.
Liz Mastrio, Minnechaug – The senior attack continued her hot start to the 2015 season, contributing 17 points—nine goals, eight assists—in the Falcons’ two victories.
Check out ESPN Boston’s latest Top 25 poll HERE.
Undefeated quartet pushing forward – The hot starts from Concord-Carlisle (6-0), Westwood (7-0) and Needham (7-0) aren’t too surprising.
However, the trio is joined by an unlikely quartet that have been rising up the poll in recent weeks. Andover (5-0) recently cracked the Top 10, Bishop Feehan (5-0) and Beverly (6-0) made it into the first 20 and Billerica (5-0) made its debut in the poll this week.
How long can these four keep it up?
Central/West blues – It was a rough week for teams from the two regions.
Longmeadow, Bromfield and East Longmeadow all dropped matchups this week. The Lancers and Trojans both slid down the poll a couple spots while the lost left the Spartans on the outside looking in in terms of the Top 25.
With a week full of tough matchups, the region has the opportunity to turn things around.
“We’re ready. We’re prepared for it. We’ve got a lot to prove in this game and we can’t wait to show the state what we can do.”
-Meredith Prior (North Andover) on facing top-ranked Needham on Wednesday
“It was great. We know a lot of those kids because we’ve played them in state last year and through the years. I think we missed a couple opportunities, but when you’re this early in the season you’re just trying to take one step forward at a time.”
-Leslie Frank (Westwood) on Monday’s 13-5 victory over No. 6 Longmeadow
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
Some terrific matchups highlight this week’s action.
Lincoln-Sudbury at Concord-Carlisle, Wednesday, 10 a.m. – The No. 4 Patriots might be rolling. However, the No. 18 Warriors have been C-C’s kryptonite over the past decade, winning 14 of the last 15 matchups between the two DCL rivals.
Needham at North Andover, Wednesday, 5 p.m. – The top-ranked Rockets will have their spot atop the rankings tested early, as the No. 5-ranked Scarlet Knights look to capitalize on their home turf.
Notre Dame (Hingham) at Longmeadow, Saturday, 11 a.m. – In a rematch of the 2013 state title game, the No. 3-ranked Cougars will look to disappoint the No. 6 Lancers again.
35 – The number of consecutive regular-season games Notre Dame (Hingham) had gone with holding opponents not named Westwood to under 10 goals before Needham accomplished the feat on Saturday.
30 – Points Minnechaug’s Liz Mastrio has scored in just four games thus far—19 goals, 11 assists—which is on pace to smash her mark of 128 points from a year ago.
Got a player nomination, story suggestion or interesting fact to share? Sebastian Lena can be reached via e-mail at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com or on Twitter @SP7988