By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
After having the start of their season delayed by two weeks because of coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols, the Oxford Wildcats girls’ lacrosse team finally took to the field on April 21, dropping an Oakland Activities Association (OAA) White Division game to the Stoney Creek Cougars, 14-6.
Two days later, April 23, the team hit the turf at Wildcat Stadium for the first time, picking up an impressive 15-2 victory over the Saginaw Heritage Hawks, a member of the Saginaw Valley League, to move to 1-1.
With their 2020 season being outright canceled by COVID-19, this represented Oxford’s first game action in nearly two calendar years and the young women on the team are enjoying the return to being with their classmates and playing the game they love.
“We’re focusing on having fun,” head coach Trevor Marshall shared. “I did a preseason survey, and one thing 90 percent of them said they enjoy most is being with their friends and playing a sport they love.
“After losing our season last year to the pandemic, we’re just excited to be out here and able to play.”
Seven different Wildcats scored in the win over Saginaw Heritage, with junior LeeAnn Johnson and sophomore Natalie Soule leading the way by combining for nine goals, tallying five and four, respectively.
These two, along with senior co-captains Emma Crosby and Kylie Rancilio, who both found the back of the net once against the Hawks, will likely be the team’s driving forces on the offensive end for the duration of the campaign.
“LeeAnn is a middie (midfielder) and just fast,” Marshall said. “Natalie has a lot of experience, her older sister played, she plays a lot of travel, so she’s been around the game.
“Being around the game, playing not just high school ball, but travel ball, too, that experience and her knowledge, even for a young player, she’s just a sophomore, she’s one of our leaders. One that we count on to take care of the ball, find the open person, and finish when she needs to.”
Soule’s older sister Marshall was referencing, Olivia, graduated from Oxford High School in 2020, and her father, Scott, is the head coach of the Wildcats’ junior varsity team.
While Oxford delivered a consistent offensive performance in their triumph, senior goalkeeper Madison Pilecki was strong, as well, coming up with a couple of point-blank saves. This name might be familiar to readers of The Oxford Leader, as she doubled as the manager of Rachel Bryer’s girls’ basketball team for the last two seasons, frequently performing the pregame National Anthem on her acoustic guitar.
“Wednesday (the Stoney Creek game), they came right down the field, got the opening goal within five seconds and I think that shook her a little bit,” Marshall said.
“We had a former player that plays goalie in college come in and work with her yesterday (April 22) a little bit. She’s athletic and she’s not afraid in there. That’s the big thing, just building that confidence for her and tonight is really going to help that.”
Continuing a five-game homestand, the Wildcats played the Rochester Adams Highlanders on Monday and will battle the Avondale Yellow Jackets on Wednesday, followed by dates with the Farmington Falcons on Friday and North Farmington Raiders on Monday, May 3.
Rochester Adams, Avondale, and North Farmington are all OAA White foes, while Farmington resides in the OAA Red.
By Teddy Rydquist