With the Section 1 teams opening their first day of practices Monday, we’ll really get in the swing of things in terms of previews. I’ve already sent an email to all coaches regarding team capsules. I’ll be posting those soon, in addition to outlooks for each class, players to watch and, of course, a preseason top 10 poll.
I was up in Springfield, Mass., covering Iona’s men’s and women’s basketball teams in the MAAC tournament Monday, but my colleague Mike Zacchio hit a couple of schools to see how the first day of practice was going. Below is his story on how North Rockland is doing following its second-straight season reaching the sectional final.
First, here are four videos Mike shot while in Thiells.
Rule changes benefit Red Raiders
THIELLS With the Lower Hudson Valley experiencing some of its best weather during what has been a brutal winter, North Rockland coach Greg Borchers opted to take advantage and hold his first official girls lacrosse practice outside.
It was still 46 degrees out, and snow had left the Red Raiders (like many other Section 1 teams) unable to practice on their grass fields, so the team practiced on the blacktop of Fieldstone Middle School.
“We just got back from a trip in Virginia where it was 65 and sunny this weekend, so hopefully that’s a little foreshadowing for us that that’s coming sooner rather than later,” Borchers said. “But it’s the same for everybody, so we can’t say that we’re at a disadvantage or anyone is at an advantage.
“If you call turf a ‘huge advantage’ then I say our facility builds character,” he added.
One thing that Borchers hopes will be an advantage for North Rockland is some of the rule changes, particularly on draws.
Instead of having four girls around the draw circle, there will only be two allowed, a change that Borchers said should be a big plus for a deep, well-rounded Red Raider team.
“It’s going to be hard (for opponents) to match (our depth) because our lineup can change every single day,” he said. “We have not much drop off from what would be known as a ‘top-tier’ girl to a ‘second-tier’ girl, I don’t know if we have any second-tier girls.”
North Rockland fell to Suffern in the Section 1 Class AA championship last year and could likely face the Mounties again in this year’s finale. Borchers said he is not looking that far ahead, nor is he too concerned with the Mounties, who boast five Division-I commits in their junior class alone.
“We’ll worry about that when it gets a little bit closer,” he said. “We don’t play them for awhile and our whole season doesn’t revolve around beating them or them beating us. Hopefully we’re the last team standing at the end.”
North Rockland and Suffern split last year’s regular season meetings. The two play at North Rockland on April 29 and at Suffern on May 8.
“I don’t mind not having as much publicity as (Suffern) because people are going be expecting them, people aren’t going to be expecting us as much as them, so we’ll be like the underdogs,” said senior Lauren Mazza, who is committed to Marist.
With many defenders keying in on last year’s Journal News Rockland Player of the Year, Kaitlyn Rau, other Red Raider players like Mazza and senior Angela Kelly will have to step up in an effort to relieve the offensive pressure on the Villanova commit.
“I think me and Lauren definitely have to help Kait out in those situations,” said Kelly, who is committed to Pace for next season. “We’re a team, so we need everyone as much as we can.”