Swampscott girls lacrosse excited to take the next step in 2019

Swampscott's Grace DiGrande (right) returns for her senior season.

SWAMPSCOTT — The Swampscott girls lacrosse team has a tough act to follow this spring. After a historic 2018 season in which the Big Blue reached the semifinal round of the Division 2 North state tournament, taking the next step and advancing in the postseason brings a challenge at Swampscott. But it’s a challenge the Big Blue are excited to tackle.

“It takes forever for the season to get here and then when it does we have so little time,” Swampscott coach Al Eaton said. “Everybody’s really excited to get going. We have such high expectations for this year. Hopefully the girls recognize we need to get work done to reach those goals. They’re a fun group. They like being around each other. It makes for a fun experience for the coaches and players.

“We have so much of last year’s team back with a little more experience,” Eaton said. “We’re really hoping that we go a step beyond what we did last year.”

Swampscott finished the 2018 regular season at a program-best 12-6 and earned the No. 5 seed in Division 2 North. The Big Blue defeated Georgetown (14-6) in the first round and Tyngsboro (13-6) in the quarterfinal. Sectional champion Newburyport ended Swampscott’s season in the semifinal.

“It was a really good year and we only graduated three seniors between then and now,” Eaton said. “We have high expectations for this year as well.

“The girls are already familiar with all our systems,” Eaton said. “We’re just trying to build on them so they reach the next level on offense and defense. We’re hoping they continue to grow. I have five seniors and they’re a pretty strong group. With so many years of experience I think they’re poised to do something strong.”

The five seniors returning to the fold are Sara Hamada-Mohamed (goalie), Mary Miles (attacker), Grace DiGrande (attacker), Nikki Rosa (defender) and Jackie Frisoli (defender).

All five seniors will serve as co-captains this season.

“I think they have a ton of experience behind them,” Eaton said. “We have both sides of the ball covered. They’re all in. They’re all really into it. I think they’re determined to have a very successful season.”

Also returning are junior midfielder Emerson Laundry, and sophomore midfielders Harper Clopton and Reese Robertson.

“We have a fairly experienced team even though one of the positions is fairly young,” Eaton said. “I think it’s just a matter of building on last year. This is my fourth year as a head coach at Swampscott. These seniors have been here since they were freshmen. They’ve worked with our system and we’ve been developing straight along.”

DiGrande and Laundry each scored over 50 goals last season and project to repeat their offensive success this spring. But Swampscott has prioritized a balanced approach on offense and Eaton said one of his team’s goals is to make sure any player can find the back of the net.

“One of the things that we work at is we try to make sure we spread the scoring around so that we don’t have any single player carrying the weight,” Eaton said. “I expect any attacker or midfielder is capable of scoring and hopefully our defenders will be nice and stout. Team’s very important to us. We’re not about individual accomplishments but more about team success.”

Eaton expects Swampscott to be pushed and tested in the Northeastern Conference.

“We’ll definitely have our hands full,” Eaton said. “We’re the only Division 2 team in our conference. Everybody else is Division 1. Marblehead and Beverly are the two teams we’re yet to get past. It’ll be very challenging for us. In the season, we definitely welcome that challenge so that we’re better prepared for the postseason.”

Swampscott starts the season next Friday (4) with a non-conference game against Melrose.

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