Returning veterans for the Tewksbury High girls lacrosse team incude, from left, Rachel Stronach, Hayley Sutherland, Bridget Casey, Ashley Kelly, Haley
Returning veterans for the Tewksbury High girls lacrosse team incude, from left, Rachel Stronach, Hayley Sutherland, Bridget Casey, Ashley Kelly, Haley Golini, Taylor Lirakis and Chelsea Smith. SUN/BOB WHITAKER

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As the sport of lacrosse continues to explode here in Massachusetts, local teams have had a big part of that as 12 teams qualified for post-season play last year between Mass. and New Hampshire.

Westford Academy advanced the furthest, losing in the Division 1 EMass. semifinals to Notre Dame of Hingham, which went on to capture the D1 state title.

Westford finished 23-2, including its D1 North title, and appears to be loaded once again behind All-Star Erica Mattila, who last year finished the season with 54 goals, 17 assists and won 80 percent of her faceoffs. She will be helped by a handful of other talented players such as Jenna Klinka, Kalie Boyd and Rebecca and Cathryn Sennott.

Acton-Boxboro (14-7-1) and Billerica (12-7) are also coming off state tournament seasons.

Over in Central Mass., Tyngsboro, Groton-Dunstable and Littleton are all coming off tremendous seasons and they all will be looking to repeat that success. Tyngsboro finished with a 16-4 record, while Groton-Dunstable advanced to the semifinals, losing to Algonquin. The Tigers finished 15-5 overall and will look to Bridget Schofield (42-18-60) and new coach Sean Sullivan to continue the winning ways.

Chelmsford, Lowell, Dracut and Tewksbury will look to improve in the very competitive Merrimack Valley Conference. The Lions will be led by Micaela Sanborn, who netted 47 goals a year ago. In the CAC, Lowell Catholic will return from its Division 2 championship title behind the scoring of Lexi Petzold, who had 41 last year.

Preview Capsules

ACTON-BOXBORO

League: DCL Division 1

Last Year's Record: 14-7-1

Returning Letterwinners: Eleana Cardarelli, sr., midfielder; Eleni Neyland, sr., midfielder; Amanda Frank, sr., midfielder; Brooke Goshtigian, sr., defense; Susie Ellicks, sr., defense; Christine Davies, sr., defense; Leah Cardarelli, jr., midfielder; Maggie Bettez, jr., midfielder; Maya Cote, jr., midfielder; Kate Potter, jr., attack; Allie Goddard, jr., attack; Keelin McCarthey, jr., attack; Brenna Keefe, soph., goalie.

Promising Newcomers: Julia Neyland, fr., midfielder; Caroline Maxwell, soph., defense; Caroline Loverud, fr., attack.

Head coach Scott Biron (4th year): "The team has been working hard in the tough preseason weather and is shaping up on schedule."

BEDFORD

League: DCL Small Division

Last Year's Record: 6-13-1

Returning Letterwinners: Victoria Barry, sr., defense; Olivia Citrano, jr., attack; Nina Kuhn, soph., attack; Anna Clerkin, jr., attack; Addie Hurwitz, jr., attack.

Head coach Meghan Harris (4th year): "I'm very optimistic about the level of athleticism this year's team has. We've got speed, power, and strength on our roster this season. If we can combine those with stick work and field smarts, I think we'll be a real competitor this year."

BILLERICA

League: MVC Large

Last Year's Record: 12-7

Returning Letterwinners: Erin Hatch, sr., midfielder; Amy Comeau, sr., goalie; Haley McGuerty, sr., midfielder; Jaime Balboni, jr., midfielder; Paige Garabedian, jr., midfielder; Carrie Gillis, jr., midfielder; Jess Wetzonis, jr., attacker; Michaela Coye, jr., defender; Amanda Burns, soph., midfielder; Macy Verecellini, soph., attack.

Promising Newcomers: Sally Kennedy, soph., defense; Rachel Peacock, soph., defense; Ally Hutchings, soph., attack; Brinna Johnson, soph., defense; Katie Napoli, soph., midfield.

Head coach Ashley Martell (5th season): "The girls have come into this season in great shape and have the desire to work hard and they want to be very successful this season. I am excited to get out on the field and see what they can do."

BISHOP GUERTIN

League: New Hampshire Division 2

Last Year's Record: 11-5

Returning Letterwinners: Abby Collins, jr., attack; Averi Farhat, sr., attack; Brody Johnson, jr., midfield; Bryn Carroll, soph., midfielder; Caley Prunier, sr., attack; Cara Broderick, jr., midfield; Carly Caveny, jr., midfield; Caroline Boudreau, soph., midfield; Erica Chareth, soph., midfield; Katherine Lambert, sr., attack; Kristin Cameron, jr., midfield. Kyra Lowenberg, soph., attack; Lauren Trepaney, jr., goalie; Mia Vecchione, sr., defense; Mikayla Elliott, jr., midfield; Ally Lynch, soph., attack; Elise Albertini, soph., goalie; Erica Di Meo, jr., midfield; Rachel Zuercher, jr., midfield.

Promising Newcomers: Brea Veilleux, jr., defense; Kate Bradford, fr., midfield; Marie Laplante, soph., midfield; Olivia Koutsos, Emma Doyle, jr., defense; Madison Cote, fr., attack; Meghan Cramb, fr., defense; Sarina Shafiyan-Rad, sr., defense.

Head coach Mandy Rogers (2nd season): "I am already seeing an expansion in the program. Talented athletes are joining the squad and making the team better. I look forward to watching the group take positive steps towards its potential."

CHELMSFORD

League: MVC Large

Last Year's Record: 7-11

Returning Letterwinners: Baylee Stone, sr., attack; Haley Lafreniere, sr., attack; Micaela Sanborn, sr., midfield; Rachel Bossi, jr., midfield; Mary Lupoli, jr., defense; Julianne Sheehan, jr., midfield; Bronwyn Shinnick, jr., defense; Lillie Whalen, jr., midfield; Alli Young, jr., midfield; Michelle Chernaik, jr., defense; Bailey Grant, soph., goalie; Jess Philippon, soph., midfield.

Promising Newcomers: Brittany Doherty, sr., defense; Jocelyn Dionne, jr., midfield; Grace Gerhardt, jr., defense; Kelly McDonough, jr., defense; LeighAnne Metivier, jr., defense; Rachel Hopkins, soph., attack; Ceila Kampner, soph., attack; Monika Shulze, soph., midfield; Isabelle Danahy, fr., attack; Stephanie Gilet, fr., attack; Jess Hopkins, fr., goalie; Caitlin Sanborn, fr., attack.

Head coach Mike Marshall (4th season): "The team is working extremely hard and the girls are excited for the season ahead. We are a young team with some solid senior leadership which we hope will pay off as we continue throughout the season. The team is excited for the challenge as we play in a very competitive MVC Large Division and have a tough non-league schedule."

CONCORD-CARLISLE

League: DCL Division 2

Last Year's Record: 9-10-1

Returning Letterwinners: Allie Barrett, sr., midfield; Emma Brandhorst, sr., midfield/attack; Tessa Dibble, sr., defense; Amelia Johnson, sr., attack; Emma Mahoney, sr., midfield; Becca Olsen, sr., attack; Jenna Carlton, jr., attack; Conley Ernst, jr., goalie; Lexi Goodhue, jr., attack; Catherine Gouchoe, jr., attack; Emily Mushlitz, jr., defense; Hannah Dudley, soph., midfield; Cassidy Hale, soph., midfield/attack; Madeline Leahy, soph., defense; Johanna O'Neil, soph., defense; Sophie Shipe, soph., midfield; Brianna Stout, soph., defense/attack.

Promising Newcomers: Melissa Hoey, sr., defense; Margot Painter, jr., defense; Kayla Milofsky, soph., goalie.

Head coach Paul Morrison (4th year): "Last year's team had a lot of adversity battling through inexperience and injury. We always play a tough schedule being in the DCL, but we have so many veteran players who are used to playing in many games that have gone down to the wire. With our four senior captains (Barrett, Brandhorst, Mahoney, and Olsen) I am confident we will come out on the positive side of the majority of those close games."

DRACUT

League: MVC Small

Last Year's Record: 4-14

Returning Letterwinners: Hailey Nogler, sr., defense; Christina Kompouras, sr., attack; Courtney Langlais, jr., attack; Cassidy Diaz, jr., defense; Sammy Carmany, jr., attack; Sarah Mallahan, jr., attack; Erin Burgoyne, jr., attack; Emily Monette, jr., defense; Becca Fisher, soph., attack;

Promising Newcomers: Rachel Santos, fr., midfielder; Amanda Bishop, fr., attack.

Head coach Katie Bourque (4th season): "This year we have the talent (to be better). We are led by our two senior captains, Hailey Nogler and Christina Kompouras. We are pleased with how our preseason is going along with the incoming freshmen talent. We are excited with the progress that has been made and can't wait for the season to start."

GROTON-DUNSTABLE

League: Mid-Wach A

Last Year's Record: 16-5

Returning Letterwinners: Livy Penney, sr., attack; Liv Rubeski, sr., attack/midfield; Shelly Herlihy, sr., defense; Nicki Wilkinson, jr., midfield/attack; Katie O'Brien, jr., defense; Fiona Henry, jr., defense; Maria Antonellis, soph., goalie; Sara Walsh, soph., attack; Maddy Smethurst, soph., midfield/attack; Olivia Aumasi, soph., midfield/attack; Rebecca Herlihy, soph., midfield/defense.

Promising Newcomers: Caitlynn Berube, jr., midfield/attack; Johanna Fischi, jr., defense; Kirsten Habermann, jr., attack; Emily Acone, soph., midfield/defense; Julie King, soph., midfield/defense.

Head coach Sarah Valacer (1st year): "We are rebuilding on defense this year. We lost four senior defenders, but from what I've seen so far there are girls ready and willing to step up to fill the spots and learn from senior captain, Shelly Herlihy. Our goalie, Maria Antonellis, has developed even more after her amazing freshman season. I am looking forward to seeing her make some key saves this season. Offensively, we are getting the routine down quickly with the help from leaders Livy Penney, Liv Rubeski and Nicki Wilkinson, who are always looking to goal."

LITTLETON

League: Mid-Wach B

Last Year's Record: 15-5

Returning Letterwinners: Hayley Anderson, midfield; Amanda Crory, attack; Kelsey Doran, attack; Erin Dorey, defense/midfield; Stephanie Gentile, midfield/defense; Erin Kish, midfield/defense; Molly Legenza, attack; Sarah Lizotte, midfield/defense; Alana Maher, attack; Nicole Patterson, goalie; Bridget Schofield, midfield/defense; Samantha Stalford, midfield/defense; Samantha Sullivan, defense; Abby Whitcomb, attack; Audrey Zaborowski, defense; Alicia Dray, attack/midfield.

Promising Newcomers: Jill Gruskowski, attack; Kylie Murphy, midfield; Sophia Napoli, midfield/defense; Molly Shoemaker, midfield; Emily Sullivan, defense; Katie Young, midfield.

Head coach Sean Sullivan (1st year): "The team is full of skilled, dedicated young ladies who are working hard to become a cohesive team. Team play will be the overall emphasis for the season."

LOWELL

League: Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1

Last Year's Record: 9-10

Returning Letterwinners: Hanna MacKinnon, jr., midfield; Hannah Gabriel, sr., midfield; Delane Leahy, jr., attack; Jess Erickson, sr., midfield; Liz Mahoney, sr., attack; Morghan Cassella, sr., attack; Francesca Cigliano, sr., midfield; Emily Gilligan, sr., defense; Kelsie Christiansen, sr., midfielder; Sara Blazon, sr., attack; Callie O'Neil, jr., attack; Alex Karabatsos, sr., defense; Alyda Yim, jr., defense.

Promising Newcomers: Sarah Cohen, soph., midfield; Taylor Ly, jr., attack; Olivia Trull, soph., attack; Erma Ngariuya, jr., midfield; Stephanie Barr, soph., midfield; Megan Wonson, soph., defense; Genesis Pinto, jr., midfield; Narie Phim, sr., attack; Heather Cook, jr., attack; Vanessa Si, sr., goalie.

Head coach (interim) Kerry D'Ambroise (1st year): "We have a strong set of returners and seniors coming back this year. Our attack is really clicking and we are working on continuing our progress with our defensive unit. The girls are willing to put in the extra work and are eager to get the season going. They are a fun group of girls."

LOWELL CATHOLIC

League: Central Catholic Small Division

Last Year's Record: 14-4, small school champs

Returning Letterwinners: Lexi Petzold, sr., attack; Courtney Lanier, sr., goalie; Brianna Duarte, sr., attack; Sam O'Neil, sr., attack; Sam Hiott, sr., attack; Taylor Patterson, jr., defense; Brianna Fiorentino, jr., defense; Julia Mancini, jr., defense; Carly Gill, jr., attack; Katie Conway, jr., defense; Lauren dautell, jr., attack; Molly Cote, soph., attack; Shelagh O'Neil, soph., defense; Estelle Penta, soph., center.

Promising Newcomers: Sophia Ryan, jr., defense; Alyssa Anderson, soph., attack; Baylee Duarte, soph., defense.

Head coach Jillian Lynam (2nd year): "We're looking good and we're still working out a few chinks in the armor. But every day the girls develop a better flow with each other especially with regards to knowing one another's game and how they move on the field. I like where we're heading and I'm looking forward to see what we become."

NORTH MIDDLESEX

League: Mid-Wach A

Last Year's Record: 5-13

Returning Letterwinners: Mackenzie Gray, sr., attack; Molly TenBroeck, sr., attack; Kimmie Zuccaro, jr., midfield; Lauren Foley, sr., midfield/attack; Maddy Ozog, jr., midfield; Emily Valacer, jr., defense; Anna Wespiser, jr., defense; Kaycee Cokonis, soph., attack; Cali Hendley, soph., attack.

Promising Newcomers: Katie Babineau, fr., goalie; Danielle Kozloski, soph., midfield; Julia Langlois, fr., defense; Samantha Donahoe, soph., defense.

Head coach Margaret Desilets (6th year): "The team is improving every day. Being a young team can prove challenging but this group of girls offers a lot of potential and we are all eager to begin playing."

PELHAM

League: New Hampshire Division 3

Last Year's Record: 0-14

Returning Letterwinners: Brooke Paradis, jr., midfield; Heather Defranzo, jr., attack; Jaris Dargue, jr., defense; Lauren Diprizio, jr., midfield; Mandy Barton, soph., midfield; Taylor Burke, soph., attack.

Promising Newcomers: Abigail Joncas, fr., midfield; Kaylie Apkarian, sr., midfield; Lilly Shlimon, fr., midfield; Sarah Morin, fr., midfield; Shannon Weisensee, fr., midfield; Jordyn Chase, soph., defense; Shea Kingsley, fr., goalie; Clara Duff-Marsh, soph., goalie.

Head coach Kaitlin Carmody (3rd season): "We have a very young team this year after graduating 12 seniors last year. I am looking forward to getting these girls to mold together as one so that he have a successful next few years."

SHAWSHEEN TECH

League: Independent

Last Year's Record: 11-5

Returning Letterwinners: Rachel McLaren, sr., midfield; Alisha Shidaki, sr., midfield; Bethany Scott, sr., attack; Erin Elliott, sr., defense; Meg Ferguson, jr., midfield; Jackie Farraher, jr., defense; Malorie Kiehl, jr., attack; Skylar Jacques, jr., midfield; Alexandra Bagrowski, jr., attack; Kerin O'Hearn, jr., goalie; Michelle Farraher, soph., midfield; Kim Hayes, soph., defense; Kaitlyn McLaren, soph., defense; Nicole Kopacz, soph., defense; Brianna Penney, soph., attack; Kerrie Malloy, soph., attack.

Promising Newcomers: Eliana Purtell, soph., attack; Shana Warford, fr., attack; Taylor Lynch, fr., defense; Hailey Liston, fr., attack; Meghan Longo, fr., defense; Hannah Dechiara, fr., attack; Jenna Maglio, fr., attack; Chloe Niven, fr., attack; Taylor Kelley, fr., attack; Kiley Barrett, fr., attack; Nicki Antonoff, fr., defense/goalie.

Co-head coach Charlotte Ardini (1st year): "The girls have been working extremely hard. All of our returners are phenomenal leaders on and off the field, which will greatly reflect on our newcomers. Both (co-coach) Eileen Warford and I are both past graduates and athletes from Shawsheen, which makes the coaching experience that much greater. We're able to share the same love and pride for the school and its athletics along with the girls on the team."

TEWKSBURY

League: MVC Small

Last Year's Record: 5-11

Returning Letterwinners: Taylor Lirakis, sr., attack; Hayley Sutherland, sr., defense; Bridget Casey, sr., defense; Amanda Brown, jr., midfield; Chelsea Smith, sr., attack/midfield; Rachel Stronach, sr., defense; Haley Golini, sr., attack; Ashley Kelly, sr., midfield/attack; Lindsey McCarthy, jr., attack; Rose Souza, jr., defense; Natalia Styburski, jr., midfield; Amanda Aylward, soph., midfield; Delaney Chisholm, soph., attack.

Promising Newcomers: Marissa Conlin, jr., defense; Jamie Fowler, jr., attack; June Garcia, jr., defense; Beth Murphy, jr., defense; Carly Slavin, jr., midfield; Meredith Cahill, jr., defense; Shannon Smith, jr., defense; Caitlyn Carroll, soph., goalie; Meg Donohue, soph., midfield; Allison Piricini, fr., midfield.

Head coach Joel McKenna (7th season): "I think if we stay healthy we have the ability to have a good season. We have a good mix of veteran experience and talented youth.We have an all-conference player back in Hayley Sutherland and a bunch of all-stars back in Taylor Lirakis, Chelsea Smith, Ashley Kelly and Amanda Aylward. Our biggest concern is goaltending. We are young and inexperienced at the goaltending position."

TYNGSBORO

League: Mid-Wach B

Last Year's Record: 16-4

Returning Letterwinners: Micky Jaggers, sr., attack; Devon Milligan, sr., midfield; Monique Martin, sr., attack/midfield; Aly Schade, sr., defense; Jackie Richardson, jr., attack; Hailey Casey, jr., midfield; Brianna Day-Lewis, jr., goalie; Jenny Keohane, jr., midfield; Jenna Durkin, soph., attack/midfield; Natalie Wickens, soph., attack; Kylie O'Hare, soph., attack; Ashley Leal, attack.

Promising Newcomers: Alyssa Cizec, soph., midfield; Alyssa Diamatopoulos, soph., defense; Shannon Morissey, sr., defense/attack; Jill Vergados, jr., midfield; Alyssa Gendreau, jr., defense.

Head coach Carrie Casey (1st year): "We're confident the Tigers are going to be as successful as they were last year. I have a lot of new varsity players on both the offensive and defensive ends who are combining nicely with our experienced players. Together they have created a talented and aggressive team ready for the challenge."

WESTFORD ACADEMY

League: DCL

Last Year's Record: 23-2; DCL champions; Division 1 North champions; state semifinalists.

Returning Letterwinners: Kalie Boyd, sr., goalie; Jillia Berner, sr., defense; Allia Connolly, sr., defense; Ali Garvin, sr., defense; Tianna Habosian, sr., attack; Shannon Harris, jr., defense; Jenna Klinka, sr., attack; Hailey MacDonald, sr., midfield; Erica Mattila, sr., midfield; Abbie Scott, jr., attack; Cathryn Sennott, sr., midfield; Rebecca Sennott, sr., midfield; Stacy Shackelton, sr., attack; Allie Skahon, jr., attack; Kristy Westerhoff, jr., midfield.

Promising Newcomers: Leah Calitri, soph., defense; Ellie Diamond, soph., midfield; Haley Cogliano, fr., midfield; Cat Mahanna, fr., midfield.

Head coach Julie Olivier (4th year): "We made the state semi-finals last season and we are making a run to be a contender again this year. We have a strong, balanced team. We graduated a strong group last year, five that are playing in college as freshmen. This year we have four seniors recruited to play in college, Rebecca and Cathryn Sennott to UNH, Erica Mattila (captain) to Saint Anselm's and Tianna Habosian to Assumption, with a few others who will likely be walk-ons. We are preparing for strong competition in the DCL and top teams we will face out of league."

WILMINGTON

League: Middlesex League Small School

Last Year's Record: 7-10

Returning Letterwinners: Rachael Mara, sr., midfield; Caroline Robarge, sr., attack; Jenny Holloran, jr., defense; Hannah Paoletti, sr., attack; Heather Trites, jr., defense; Ashley Warren, soph., midfield; Lianna Natola, jr., defense/midfield; Dana Rosetti, jr., midfield; Caroline Albanese, jr., defense; Gina Barbaro, jr., attack.

Promising Newcomers: Brittany Abbott, jr., midfield; Moesha Beray, soph., attack; Nicole McIrney, jr., midfield; Bridget Sullivan, soph., midfield; Maeve Sullivan, soph., attack; Emily Laud, soph., goalie.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Chelmsford: Michaela Sanborn, sr., midfield; Concord-Carlisle: Emma Brandhorst, sr., midfield; Emma Mahoney, sr., midfield; Becca Olson, sr., attack; Allie Barrett, sr., midfield; Groton-Dunstable: Nicki Wilkinson, jr., attack; Livy Penney, sr., attack; Shelly Herlihy, sr., defense; Maria Antonellis, soph., goalie; Littleton: Bridget Schofield, midfielder; Lowell: Hanna MacKinnon, jr., midfield; Liz Mahoney, sr., attack; Morgan Cassella, sr., attack; Hannah Gabriel, sr., midfield; North Middlesex: Kimberly Zuccaro, jr., midfield; Shawsheen Tech: Rachel McLaren, sr., midfield; Tewksbury: Taylor Lirakis, sr., attack; Hayley Sutherland, sr., defense; Bridget Casey, sr., defense; Amanda Brown, jr., midfield; Tyngsboro: Micky Jaggers, sr., attack; Devon Milligan, sr., midfield; Westford: Erica Mattila, sr., midfield; Jenna Klinka, sr., attack; Katie Boyd, sr., goalie; Cathryn Sennott, sr., midfield; Rebecca Sennott, sr., midfield; Wilmington: Rachael Mara, sr., midfield; Caroline Robarge, sr., attack.