The first varsity year for women's lacrosse at Salem State University since 2003 is running very smoothly after some worries before the season began that there might not be enough players. Bridget Dullea joined the team after the basketball season ended and gave the Lady Vikings a huge boost.
"I had no idea we would do so well," said senior captain Kaitlyn Shidler of Peabody, who played an instrumental role in getting a club team started when she was a freshman and has played ever since.
"I was nervous about our first season at varsity because our numbers were low. We graduated a lot of very good players, but having Bridget is a huge pickup. We also are getting a lot of help from our rookies."
The Lady Vikings are now 7-4. Dullea, a former star player at Bishop Fenwick, has started all 11 games and leads the team with 50 goals and 6 assists (and a pair of game-winning goals) while Shidler is third on the team with 28 goals and 4 assists (one game winner).
Dullea and Shidler are tied for the lead in ground balls while Dullea leads in draw controls and Shidler is second. Dullea, a junior midfielder, scored seven goals in the recent 18-13 victory over UMass Dartmouth.
"They had already started practicing while the basketball season was still going on, but after a week off I jumped right in," said Dullea, who is also from Peabody and set scoring records for Converse College as a freshman. "I'm so glad it's a varsity program this year and not club.
"The only difference between a Division 2 program and here is you don't play year round. At Salem State it's only two weeks of fall ball instead of going from September until the season starts with practices with the team. Some girls haven't played as much lacrosse, but we're all working together. I try my best to lead by example, and Kaitlyn and Kate Warren are really good captains."
Dullea, who led the North Shore in scoring with 96 goals in her senior year at Fenwick, said everybody was nervous about the lack of numbers at the beginning, but now they not only have plenty of players, who are all doing a good job. She is unsure whether she will have one or two more years of eligibility left, but loves the school.
There are several local women on the team including freshman defenseman Tara Carnavale of Beverly, senior defenseman Catherine O'Neill from Hamilton-Wenham, junior attacker Lauren DeLuca, freshman attacker Sarah Lambert, and junior defenseman Eric Mendez from Salem High.
Head coach Tara Sartori, who played at Pingree and Holy Cross, is in her fourth year at the helm. Assistant coach Sherene Abu-Hijleh, who played for the Tanners, helped get the program going along with Shidler.
"Carnavale has been doing a great job for us on defense, and there is nobody like Bridget Dullea," said Shidler. "She is always in the right place at the right time, and I have never seen such a great shooter. She is so accurate and really picks her spots. Having her on the team really takes a lot of pressure off me, and she also pushes me. I thought I would be the only one taking faceoffs so that is a big relief."
The Vikings hope to make the playoffs with a strong push at the end of the season. Senior Night is April 28th under the lights at Alumni Field against Daniel Webster.
"I am going to miss it so much," said Shidler. "Lacrosse has been a huge part of my life since my freshman year at Peabody High, and it is going to be hard to leave. It's nice to know the program is in good hands, and I'll definitely be back to help out and cheer them on next year."
• • •
Monica Adler was named America East Female Track Athlete of the Week after running the 1500 meter race at the Florida Relays in 4:22.29 to finish fourth. Adler had a great indoor season at Boston University and her time is equivalent to a 4:40 mile. It is the top time in the conference and fifth in the Northeast Region.
• • •
Ty Leavitt, who pitched a nifty three hitter for North Andover in five strong innings on the mound against Bishop Fenwick this week (10-2 victory) is the son of former Peabody High star Kyle Leavitt. The Knights' senior is unbeaten in his high school career. He kept Fenwick batters off balance by mixing his pitches effectively, and the only hard hit off him was a long triple down the left field line by Nick Bona.
• • •
Jean DePlacido is a longtime correspondent for The Salem News. You can contact her at JMdeplacido@aol.com.