This is a different Wilde Lake girls lacrosse team.
This isn't the same squad that had to adapt to an unfamiliar system installed by then-rookie coach Cheryl Lee, who climbed aboard just one month before the start of the season.
This isn't the same team that endured lopsided losses en route to a 5-6season.
No, these Wildecats are a positive bunch, and they bolstered their optimism by opening their season yesterday with a 15-6 thumping of visiting Howard.
"Last year, we had a rebuilding year," said senior midfielder Lynlea Cronin. "This team has stepped it up, and I think that if we keep working hard, we'll do well."
Cronin, who will play lacrosse at James Madison next spring, led the charge for Wilde Lake with a game-high six goals and an assist.
Cronin and attacker Lauren Barkley (four goals) scored six of the Wildecats' first eight goals to help them enjoy an 8-1 advantage with 7:12 left in the first half.
But the Lions (0-2 overall, 0-1 Howard County) staged a mini-run as attackers Libby Kawa, Florencia Vasta and Kristen Warfield scored three straight goals to draw within 8-4.
Wilde Lake goalkeeper Rachel Lewis said she wasn't unnerved by Howard's rally, but was somewhat disappointed by her team's lapse.
"We weren't playing up to our potential, and that shouldn't have happened," Lewis said. "We learned a lot from that."
The Wildecats certainly did, scoring three of the next four goals and closing out the game with four unanswered scores to clinch the victory.
While pleased with her team's offensive burst, Lee was more excited about the play of Lewis (15 saves) and starting defenders Brenda Gonzalez, Ali McDonough, Ashley Spencer and Mallory Hemmerlin.
"We're basically resetting a new defense," said Lee, who graduated three defensive starters from last season's squad. "Brenda Gonzalez and Ashley Spencer are leading them, and they're starting to settle down in their end of the field."
The Lions were led by midfielder Sharee Richardson's two goals, but coach Gretta Schaefer said her team had little energy after playing in a 16-3 loss to South Carroll on Monday.
"We weren't catching the ball the way we should have, and we would occasionally get to a ground ball," she said.