The Lady Grizzlies were members of the North Georgia Lacrosse League last year in anticipation of being granted a varsity team for 2013.
According to coach Jennifer Byers, the school has embraced the team.
“The administration and staff have been very supportive of the team,” she said. “The players, families and coaches are looking forward to a fun and challenging first season of varsity lacrosse.”
Because the team was a part of the NGLL last year, the Lady Grizzlies aren’t completely inexperienced.
Sophomore Natalie Cain will start in goal, while sophomore Jordan Smith will head up the defense. At midfield, sophomores Maria Knott and Emma Kirwin and senior Marry Shelly will help transition the ball.
Senior Jenna Wohlford and sophomore Mai’lie Reed will lead the attack.
New to the Lady Grizzlies this year are sisters Lauren and Kirsten Aanensen, a junior and freshman, respectively.
Creekview will compete in Area 2A-AAAAA, alongside Allatoona, Darlington, Kell, North Paulding, Pope, Riverwood, River Ridge, Sprayberry, Walker and Westminster.
River Ridge, which made its debut last season, will benefit from its first senior class.
Etowah’s Guill Strougo, the longest-tenured girls lacrosse coach in the county, said it is exciting to see so much growth. When he started with the Lady Eagles five years ago, there were just two high school programs in the county — his and Woodstock.
“Lacrosse is exploding here in Cherokee County, so we are doing everything we can to encourage everybody to get out there and play this wonderful sport,” Strougo said. “We are trying to get the sport to grow in the county and give everyone the opportunity to play.”
The coach conducts clinics and works with the Cherokee Youth Lacrosse Association in the off-season in order to foster further development. He hopes that, one day, each high school in the county will offer the sport, so that youth players don’t have to give up the game when they age-out of the recreation leagues.
“Girls that play youth ball only get to play until eighth grade,” Strougo said. “It’s been nice to see the girls and boys to have that opportunity to go on a play at their high school.”
Woodstock, Cherokee and Etowah will all compete in Area 2AAAAAA.
The Lady Wolverines, who have the oldest program in the county, will open their season Wednesday at River Ridge under first-year coach Anita Dodd, who also coaches volleyball at the school.
Cherokee already opened its season with a 24-4 loss to West Forsyth.
Etowah was the only girls lacrosse team to reach the state playoffs a year ago, though the Lady Eagles were bounced in the first round by eventual state champion Milton.
Strougo said 70 percent of his team is returning from last season, with just five players graduating.
Defensively, the Lady Eagles will be led by Hannah Westler and Jackie Reedy. Midfielder Victoria Stairs, who led Etowah in scoring last season, will likely reprise her role, while Katherine Pradhu will lead the attack.
“This is, by far, the strongest team I’ve coached as far as talent goes, and work ethic and attitude,” said Strougo, who feels he can substitute players without losing anything on the field. “I’m subbing basically the same player, which is something I haven’t had in five years. This is going to be a very good year for us.”