By Nelson Coffin
The new kids on the A Conference lacrosse block are doing just fine, thank you.
Yes, there have been bumps and bruises along the way playing for a team playing in what some people consider the most highly competitive league in the country, yet the Falcons from Finksburg have not flinched in their inaugural A Conference season.
In fact, even though Gerstell boasts only 17 players on its roster, coach Josh Gochnauer’s club has collected three conference wins this season.
After losing their first four conference games and another one to highly-regarded Carroll County public school power Century, the Falcons have settled down to win four of their last six games.
Although the win total is not likely to improve when they travel to meet the nation’s consensus No. 1 team McDonogh in a battle on Wednesday, Gochnauer said that he and his players are encouraged by their recent work.
Beating Mount de Sales in overtime, 15-14, “turned the tide for us,” Gochnauer said. “We needed that game desperately., and it has turned the season around for us.”
Things started reasonably well for the Falcons this spring.
“We had a great opener against John Carroll (a 10-9 loss),” he said. “And then we had some tough times against very good teams. But we’ve had a good mid-season bounce-back.”
What the players have learned is that the fierce competition means that teams have to always be on their ‘A’ games to succeed in the A Conference.
“Some of those teams just bring midfielders in waves, and we just don’t have that kind of depth,” he said. “So we get pretty tired in the second half sometimes. And if you show any sloppiness, all of a sudden you’re down by five goals. But we’re sticking together and holding our own. We’ve had some success, and we know what to expect from these other teams now.”
Senior Goalie Carly Merlow (Towson commit) is a tremendous vocal backstop for the defense while junior attacker Haley Gochnauer (Vanderbilt )leads the team in overall points (52) and junior midfielder Lauren Messinese (Rutgers) has stepped up her goal production (20 goals, 7 assists) this year. All are captains.
Her sister, Emily Messinese (35 goals), who scored the game-winner against the Sailors, is best scorer on the team and bolsters a talented class of sophomores, such as midfielder Kennedy Major (18 goals), defender Haley Polk and attacker midfielder Abby Morrison (9 and 3).
A future Falcon to watch is freshman Kylie Redman.