Ocean City will be well-represented July 19-21 at the Girls’ Under 15 U.S. Lacrosse Championships, to take place in Westfield Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis.
Not only will there be six current or future members of the Red Raiders participating as part of the NJ South All Stars, but the squad is coached by Abby Mullen, the Raiders’ Head JV coach and assistant varsity coach and a physical education teacher at the high school; and Mikenzie Helphenstine, a third grade teacher at Ocean City Primary School and freshman field hockey coach at OCHS. Mikenzie also coaches lacrosse for the Upper Twp./Ocean City Warriors recreation league squad.
“The team looks good,” Mullen said Thursday night following their last formal practice prior to leaving for Indianapolis.
The squad then chowed down on pizza provided by Tony P’s House of Pies.
Incoming Ocean City Freshmen Abbey Fenton, Emma Finnegan Abigail Bennett and Ashley Devlin will be joined on the All Star squad by Sophomores Danielle Donoghue, and Ali Hendricks.
Team members were nominated by their school or recreation league coaches and survived a two-day tryout camp. Other local players include Ava Wells, Aubrey Hunter, Kira Sides and Madison Barber, all of Middle Twp., Robin Spector of Mainland, Sophia Facenda of Holy Spirit and Taylor Herr of Ocean Township.
The coaches praised the players’ parents, who financed their travel costs, Beth Serughetti of US Lacrosse’s South Jersey chapter, which paid for uniforms and coaches’ expenses, and Seneca High School, which provided practice facilities.
The team will fly out of Philadelphia on Monday night and play their first game Tuesday morning in pool play, a 9 a.m. contest against Top Guns Purple of New York. Other teams in South Jersey’s pool include Lacrosse Monkey (Minnesota) and Team 180 2019 of Colorado. Following pool play, the teams are seeded from pool results and they advance to elimination play.
Fenton, the goalie, and Donoghue played in the tournament last year and provide veteran leadership for the rest of the squad, Mullen said.
“It is an interesting tournament because we get to play against teams from other regions of the country with completely different styles of play,” Helphenstine said. “I think we have a chance to go out there and play well. But more importantly it is a great experience for the girls and an opportunity for them to have fun.”
She said the games take place in the mornings to allow the girls to experience Indianapolis the rest of the day.
“We talked about some of the things we wanted to do and the girls really want to go zip lining,” said Helphenstine said. “So I guess we will be zip lining,” she said with a laugh.