Fountain Valley girls' lacrosse made its first state playoff berth last season. With five seniors graduated, senior co-captains Mara Whitehead and Sophie Feffer have a tall order if they hope to return to the playoffs.
“Playoffs were a big motivator last season, and it’s something I really hope we’ll be doing again,” Feffer said.
The tandem accounted for 88 points last season. Whitehead was 11th in the Southern League in scoring, netting 36 goals last year. Feffer was 14th in the league with 44 points.
Second-year coach Ally Doyon sees more than just their numerical production.
“These two girls (Whitehead and Feffer) are not only essential to our playoff hopes because of their scoring abilities, but also because of their leadership skills,” Doyon said.
Each captain understands her role on the team and knows that her most effective leadership quality will be diligence.
“One way to be successful as a team is just play together and play strong and play hard,” Whitehead said. “It’s hustle, it’s how hard you work on the field. As a captain, it’s important to set that example and encourage others to do the same.”
“I think a big part of it is making sure that we keep up the morale for the new girls and the ones that haven’t played as much,” Feffer said. “(Whitehead) and I can just lead the team and lead by example.”
Fountain Valley will have a small roster yet again. Last year, with only two subs, their starters played nearly the entire game against Columbine in the playoffs. They came up short 15-8.
“We’ve been a small team for so long. All of our players get used to that,” Whitehead said. “Just because a lot of our teams (at Fountain Valley) are small, people are used to playing the whole game.”
The short bench may test endurance, but it also calcified chemistry.
“Our team really acts as one cohesive unit, so while we lack depth, that unity allows us to compete at a higher level than one would usually expect from such a small program,” Doyon said.
“I think we work really hard, and yeah, we do have to run hard every second of every game, and I think a lot of girls are excited about that,” Feffer said. “It really makes you work harder and appreciate and get close with the team.”
Their obstacles will be powerhouses like Air Academy and Cheyenne Mountain. They will likely jockey in the standings with Palmer Ridge and Palmer. The Danes open their season April 6 at Santa Fe Prep in New Mexico.