KP Girls Lacrosse Team Relies on Experience, Athleticism
The 2023 King Philip girls lacrosse team is aiming for a berth in the state tournament.
By Ken Hamwey
Staff Sports Writer
The Division 1 girls lacrosse tournament is about to begin and coach Kourtnie Wilder and her King Philip squad hope to build on the success they achieved last year when the Warriors finished 13-5, then split fa pair of playoff matches, defeating Needham and losing to Lincoln-Sudbury.
The goals Wilder outlined for her forces during pre-season practice were down-to-earth and realistic.
“First, I stressed daily improvement in practice and in matches,’’ Wilder said. “I also emphasized that teamwork was essential and to take each match one at a time. I also said that we’d aim for the Kelley-Rex Division title and concluded with earning a berth in the state tourney and advancing further than last season.’’
At Local Town Pages deadline, the Warriors had a respectable 8-5 record and were in line to get a favorable seed for the playoffs. The Kelley-Rex Division crown, however, appears to be on its way to Franklin. As for Wilder’s objectives that focus on teamwork and daily improvement, those boxes get an indelible checkmark.
“We’ve got some key strengths,’’ Wilder offered. “We’ve got experienced starters, we’re technically sound, definitely athletic, and have a high lacrosse IQ. The players are very coachable and they’ve been able to adjust and adapt quickly.’’
The Warriors have three seniors, six juniors, seven sophomores and two freshmen. All of the seniors and juniors are experienced and four of the seven sophomores are starters.
KP’s captains — seniors Ilah Weiblen (defense) and Emily Campbell (goalie) and junior Lily McNulty (defense) have different leadership styles but their lacrosse strengths are admirable.
“Ilah leads by example,’’ Wilder noted. “A tenacious defender, she’s aggressive going to the ball, very good on ground balls and she creates turnovers. Emily is a vocal leader who’s instinctive. An experienced netminder, she sees the field well and can make a difficult save. Lily has good technique, excellent speed and forces turnovers. A vocal leader, she meshes well with all our defenders.’’
Junior Mara Boldy and sophomore Sierra King are dependable defenders who are athletic, instinctive and skilled. “Mara is competitive, technically sound and well-skilled,’’ Wilder said. “She’s aggressive and controls ground balls effectively. Sierra is agile and quick. She can read the attackers’ moves and adjust quickly.’’
Four junior attackers have a variety of plusses that no opponent can take lightly. They are Sarah Brown, Kelly Holmes, Alyssa Legere, and Nicole McDonald. At Local Town Pages deadline, Brown had 7 goals and 13 assists for 20 points; Holmes had 7 goals and 12 assists for 19 points; Legere had 20 goals and 9 assists for 29 points; and McDonald had 37 goals and 2 assists for 39 points.
“Sarah is skilled, passes effectively, and has a quick shot with good placement,” Wilder noted. “Kelly is athletic, instinctive and quick. She’s improved her scoring and her reaction time is excellent. Alyssa has settled in as a starter. A steady contributor, she’s got speed and a hard shot. Nicole is competitive, fast and instinctive. She reads defenses effectively and creates scoring opportunities.’’
Three sophomores who’ve been solid patrolling the midfield include Makenzie McDevitt, Abby MacDonald, and Sammy Cloutier. McDevitt was a Hockomock League all-star last year. At Local Town Pages deadline, McDevitt led the squad in scoring with 40 goals and 20 assists for 60 points. Abby MacDonald had 19 goals and 7 assists for 26 points, and Cloutier had 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points.
“A year-round player, Makenzie is well-skilled, has good endurance and is strong in transition,” Wilder said. “Last year she had 40 goals and 9 assists. This season she’s our leading scorer. Abby is a true midfielder with great endurance. She could play an entire match. She’s solid on both the offensive and defensive end. Sammy was a defender last year. She’s solid in transition and her stickwork and endurance are very good.’’
Wilder said that KP’s other goaltenders (senior Haley Bright and sophomore Kaitlyn Parish) can both make tough saves. “Haley is active and intercepts passes well,’’ Wilder offered. “She’s quick and her footwork is sound. Kaitlyn is vocal, athletic and also active.’’
Rounding out the roster are two freshmen and two sophomores. The freshmen include Ashleigh Whitbread (defender) and Lauren Obara (defense/attack), and sophomores Maggie Sweeney (midfielder) and Emily Heslin (attack). “They’re athletic, try hard and are coachable,’’ Wilder said. “We’ll look to them in the future.’’
The 30-year-old Wilder, who’s in her sixth year as KP’s head coach, has guided the Warriors to five playoff appearances. Her philosophy of coaching is a three-prong approach.
“I focus on being competitive,’’ she said. “That leads to winning. What I also stress is reaching one’s potential and enjoying the athletic experience. I also like our players learning some good life lessons from sports. Some are overcoming adversity, being resilient, setting goals, becoming leaders and knowing how to manage your time.’’
A native of Framingham, Wilder played field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse at Framingham High where she was a captain in ice hockey and a Bay State Conference all-star in field hockey and ice hockey. She played lacrosse at Assumption College where she majored in biology and secondary education, and earned a masters degree from Endicott College in secondary education. She teaches biology at KP.
Wilder’s assistant coaches are no strangers. Her sister Kaitlyn, who’s KP’s varsity field hockey coach, is her varsity assistant, and her sister Kristin is the jayvee lacrosse coach.
The trio will all be involved in plotting the Warriors’ strategy going forward. They’ll rely on a style that emphasizes aggressive defense and a cohesive offense that strives to create scoring opportunities.
That blend no doubt will lead KP to a tourney berth. It’s an invitation the coaches hope will be long-lasting.