The 2014 season will be the start of a new era for the Davis High girls lacrosse team.
Nine standouts — with names like Kylie Drexel, Lani Chang, Kiki Tanaka and Kelly Chuck — have graduated, leaving Blue Devil head coach Jenn Morris with a younger squad this year.
“When you lose a big group like that, it’s not about replacing them at all, because you can’t replace all of them,” Morris said. “It’s just about rebuilding and starting new. It’s been more fun than we expected because everybody here is so eager to learn. Even though we’re starting from the beginning, we’re all starting from the same place.”
Though DHS lost starters at nearly every position, Morris is excited about the players she has to fill those spots.
“It’s gonna be a good group; we’re really excited,” said the seventh-year coach. “We’re very young, so we kind of don’t know what to expect yet. But everybody is working so hard and they look really good.”
One of those key returnees is goalie Ally Weir, who begins her third season as a varsity Devil.
“It’s great; she’s one of our experienced players,” Morris said. “It’s always scary when you have a new goalie back there because it’s a whole new level. But Ally comes with three years of experience. She’ll be improving on little things, but that will help anchor our defense.”
That Davis defense will be led by senior captain Liz Leshuk along with sophomore Anna Belenis, who just finished playing point guard for the Blue Devil basketball team that reached the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Belenis is expected to make a similar difference on the lacrosse field this spring.
“(Belenis) came up last year as a freshman, and she just came from basketball, but her defense is so solid,” Morris said. “She has good stick skills, so she’ll be a huge player for us on defense and in transition.”
With longtime go-to scorer Drexel now playing at USC, it will be Sarah Bloise’s turn to step into that role. Bloise, who is also fresh off helping the DHS hoops squad to the postseason, started for Morris last year and is set for a breakout stick campaign.
“She came out even stronger than she left last season,” Morris said. “She started all last year, even with that strong senior group. I really have big expectations for her; she looks better than I even expected.
“I think teams will have a hard time shutting her down. She has such a strong shot, and she has worked on her game to take it to the next level. She’ll be really fun to watch this year.”
Bloise will see time at both attack and midfield, where she’ll play alongside senior Em Cordier.
In addition to veterans who will step up to play bigger roles, the Devils also have three — attacker Darby Maguire and midfielders Nicole Pugh and Camille Renaud — who are prepared to contribute as soon as Davis’ opener, a Friday (4 p.m.) matchup with University High at Brown Stadium.
“They’re ready to go, and I’m really excited to see how they do,” Morris said of the freshman.
— Reach Thomas Oide at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterThomas.