English powder puff looks to snap losing streak

Eileen Salazar gets ready to hike the ball during practice on Thursday afternoon at Lynn English High School in Lynn. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNN — The English powder puff team’s goal heading into Saturday’s game against Classical is simple- stop the Rams’ four-game winning streak. Classical has dominated the rivalry as of late and the Bulldogs are ready to change that trend. 

“We’ve talked about it a little bit,” English first-year coach Anthony LaFratta said. “Every year’s different. Different girls, different teams and it’s my first year coaching. But we tell the girls that this is their one shot. Classical has won the last few and that’s because they’re well-coached, they have great athletes and they practice hard. The girls are aware of it and they want to bring an end to it.”

Joining LaFratta on the coaching staff are Peter Pappagianopoulos, Ashley Aldred and Madison Molea. 

“It’s my first year doing this,” LaFratta said. “Peter did it for years with (athletic director) Dick Newton. He’s been unbelievably helpful dedicating his time. Ashley and Madison have coached the girls in other sports. They’re always there any time the girls have questions. The coaches are helpful and I can’t say enough about how much they’ve done to help me.” 

With 35 girls on the team, English kicked off practices at the end of October and has moved in the right direction since then. 

“The team’s looking pretty good,” LaFratta said. “We’re making progress every day. The girls are working hard. I really like that progress we’ve made over the past few weeks. I think we’re improving each day.” 

LaFratta pointed to speed and team chemistry as English’s top strengths. 

“Our biggest strength is we have speed,” LaFratta said. “We have girls that are willing to be selfless. A lot of girls that play want to get the ball, they want to make all the plays. Our girls are willing to sacrifice that for the better of the team. That gives us confidence that we can maybe get that win Saturday.” 

Offensively, the Bulldogs plan to rely on their speed in building a ground game. 

“We just want to try to use our speed and see if we can outrun them a little bit,” LaFratta said. “We have to hold our blocks, that’s what it’s all about. We tell the girls that the game takes 11 players doing 11 things. Everyone has to do their job, essentially. They can’t stop and watch. If they do their jobs each play, that can make for a successful Saturday afternoon.” 

Defensively, it’s about sticking to assignments and being prepared for Classical’s offense. 

“We want girls to be disciplined,” LaFratta said. “Every girl that sees the ball wants to run to the ball and make the play. We know they might try some reverses and trick plays, things of that nature. It’s part of the game. We want to make sure every girl is disciplined and knows what Classical’s trying to do.” 

Kickoff for Saturday’s game is scheduled for noon at Manning Field. 

“They girls have been really excited,” LaFratta said. “Since day one they came out with a ton of energy. The fact that Classical has won the last few kind of amped them up a little bit. The girls are super excited. They’re ready to go. They’re really looking forward to it.”

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