Park girls lacrosse coach Robin Lowe might have done her best coaching job in 16 years with the Bruins last season. The youngest team she's ever coached went 13-6 and advanced to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship game.
That success has led to high expectations this spring.
"I think we are an exciting team and there is a lot of focus and pressure on this team to do well," said Lowe, whose squad returned eight starters, including senior midfielders Yen Baker (Franklin & Marshall College recruit) and Hannah Sibel, sophomore goalie Lexi Kuntz, sophomore midfielder Natalie Rudin, junior attacker Sara Lessans, senior defenders Kali Tambree and Becca Kolodner and senior attacker Rachel Hettelman.
So far, the experienced Bruins are living up to expectations with a 4-1 start. The only blemish is a 7-6 loss to Mercy on March 26.
The Bruins think they will be ready for the toughest remaining games. Park plays at home Monday, April 8 against defending league champion Friends; the rematch with the Quakers is on April 25.
There's also a rematch with Mercy on April 11.
"Our team is playing incredible right now," Lessans said. "I think we are really coming together and jelling. This year, we refer to ourselves as a veteran team. I think our seniors have a really good knowledge of the game. We just really know what to do to get into a rhythm."
That's happened more than a few times this season with Park getting off to slow starts in games.
The Bruins went long stretches against Annapolis Area Christian School, Mercy and Seton Keough without scoring.
For instance, Park didn't score until 14 minutes into play against AACS, and then overwhelmed the Eagles once things started rolling. The Bruins led, 8-2, at halftime en route to 13-8 victory March 19 as Rudin scored six goals and Lessons totaled two goals and four assists.
The slow start proved to be crucial versus Mercy. The Bruins went 17 minutes without a goal in the setback.
"The score isn't indicative of how the game went," Lowe said.
But the Bruins' biggest deficit came against Seton Keough on April 2 when the Gators jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first 11:06.
"I don't think we have been behind four goals in a game all year," Lowe said.
After the sluggish start, Park outplayed the Gators for the remainder of the game on the way to a 9-8 victory.
Lessans (5 goals, 2 assists) and Rudin (3, 1) led the way and Kuntz had her best performance of the season, finishing with 13 saves, including four in the final 7:04.
She added 10 saves in a 22-11 win over St. John's Catholic Prep, of Frederick.
"Last year, she was a freshman and it was intimidating for her in goal," Lessans said. "This year, she is really coming into her own."