Motivated Spartans have state tournament bid on their radar

Codi Butt (left) returns as a co-captain for the St. Mary's girls lacrosse team. (Item File Photo)

LYNN — The St. Mary’s girls lacrosse team doesn’t need to be reminded of last season’s shortcomings. St. Mary’s fell just short of a state tournament bid last spring but the Spartans are using that as motivation this season.

“Last year we missed the tournament by just one game,” Spartans coach KC Butt said. “It was definitely a rough ending to the season for us. But it’s a huge motivator. We have already had the girls chattering about wanting to be in the tournament this year. It’s one of their goals and hopefully we carry it through.”

But before St. Mary’s can accomplish that goal, Butt and her assistant coaches are focused on getting a group of newcomers up to speed.

“Right now one of our biggest focuses is teaching our new kids the rules,” Butt said. “It can be a complicated game and there are some new things to worry about.

“This year we have plenty of brand new talent,” Butt said. “These are girls who have never played before but you can tell right away they have a lot of talent to bring to the table. So far I see an amazing group of girls. They are hard working and it’s been a good start.”

Working in St. Mary’s favor is the experienced leaders on the roster. It starts in net with senior goalie Lauren Vaccaro, who recently wrapped up her high school hockey career.

“One thing we are really excited for is our goalies,” Butt said. “We have Lauren who is a great goalie going into her senior year and we’re excited to have her back. Along with Lauren we also have a young newcomer, Jenny Purtell, who has shown great improvement. It’s a position we are excited for.”

In the midfield, the Spartans return two veteran players and captains in Codi Butt (KC Butt’s daughter) and Mady Hentosh. Butt and Hentosh have been among St. Mary’s leading scorers over the past few seasons.

“Codi and Mady, their reputations really precede them,” KC Butt said. “They are really great leaders and they will control the midfield for us this year. They do a great job leading in the middle of the field and that’s huge. We’re looking to win some draws and that’s how you win games.”

Senior captain Sherly Feliz will anchor the defense.

“Shirley is a senior captain and she’s one of my really strong defensemen,” Butt said. “We count on her back there along with Michelle Callahan on defense. We also have three strong attackers in Megan Parthum, Zoey Solomons and Riley Flannery.”

But one of the biggest vacancies for the Spartans going into this season is having to replace Riley Lynch, who will miss the season with an ACL injury.

“Unfortunately Riley Lynch has a torn ACL, but Kelsey Sullivan will step in to help fill that role for us,” Butt said. “We also have some young girls that are freshmen but have been with us since they were in seventh grade. They will fill in for us in some spots too.”

St. Mary’s will have plenty of competition this season in a Catholic Central League that continues to improve each year.

“It’s always a good league,” Butt said. “It starts with Austin Prep and Archbishop Williams is tough too. We always have a tough time with Bishop Fenwick, last year we beat them twice in a season for the first time. Cardinal Spelllman is improving too.”

For now, Butt and her assistant coaches have been impressed with their team as they prepare for the season opener.

“I’m pleased so far,” Butt said. “The whole coaching staff, with some new additions we are very pleasantly surprised with what we have seen. This is a hard working group filled with some smart girls.

“I want to see this group win their first game against Essex Tech,” Butt said. “That would be a great start for us. It would be one of those things that is huge for our young girls and this team to gain that confidence.”

St. Mary’s starts its season on the road Wednesday April 3 (4 p.m.) at Essex Tech.

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