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Opolsky leads first girls lacrosse team

Lissa Opolsky has coached the Northwestern field hockey team for five seasons. But she’ll take on a new challenge this spring with another Tiger program.

Opolsky was recently named the head coach of the Northwestern girls’ lacrosse team for its inaugural season. Through a number of weeks of practice, she is impressed with how the Lady Tigers’ season has started.

“It is an honor to be the first coach,” Opolsky said. “I am looking forward to seeing what the team can do and the progress we can make in a short amount of time. We are hoping to be competitive and have fun. We want to build something the community can be proud of, and in the future many girls can take advantage of.”

Of the 40 players listed on the roster, a number have played for the NYAA (Northwestern Youth Athletic Association), so there is experience with the sport for some of these players. Others will be picking up a stick for the first time.

There is a solid mix of athletes that have played other sports at Northwestern. There are 14 players who played field hockey this past fall, while 11 played soccer and five ran cross country.

“Having a group of students who have had experience playing at a high level has been great,” Opolsky said. “They understand the expectations, they embrace the hard days and continue to work to better themselves and their team.

“Although we are just beginning the program, we are hoping the experience of our youth program will help us compete with some of the teams in the area.”

With many new players and a first-year head coach, many positions are up for grabs as the Lady Tigers progress through each practice. While exact positions may not be set in stone yet, Opolsky has identified a number of potential impact players in Emilee Schultz, Sarah Schultz, Ali Lister, Tess Ledeboer, Charlotte Horn, Lauren Schellhamer, Bailey Scheffler, Lexi Bleam and Reagan Hernandez.

“We want to work hard to get better each and every day,” Opolsky said. “It is our hope to gain a better understanding of the game, compete each moment, and put our best effort forward.”

The weather during the first week of spring practices has also made it a bit more challenging as the Lady Tigers try to develop chemistry.

“The early practices have been going well,” Opolsky said. “The first week we were forced inside with the weather and field conditions, however, at the beginning of the second week we were able to begin getting outside. We are focusing a lot on fundamental skills.”

Northwestern will compete against fellow Colonial League schools such as Saucon Valley, Southern Lehigh and Moravian Academy. The Lady Tigers will also face some East Penn Conference tams in Easton, Nazareth, Liberty, Northampton, Pleasant Valley, Central Catholic and Freedom.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northwestern girls lacrosse player Morgan Nickolus works on stick skills during a recent practice for the first-year team.