KENNEBUNK — Snowflakes fell on a blustery afternoon last week as three dozen girls wielding lacrosse sticks scurried through simulated game situations on a slippery grass field behind the high school.

“At least we’re not in the parking lot for the first two weeks, like we were last year,” said sophomore Lily Schwartzman. “We don’t have (artificial) turf to play on, so until all the snow is melted, we usually end up in the parking lot. We live in Maine, so we’ve got to take what we can get.”

Wherever they start, girls who play lacrosse for Kennebunk High have become accustomed to ending their season at Fitzpatrick Stadium, often clutching a state championship plaque. Last June, however, they wound up at the town’s Dairy Queen after turning in their jerseys in the aftermath of a 10-9 loss to Massabesic in the Class A South finals.

The top-seeded and previously undefeated Rams hosted that match against No. 2 Massabesic, a team they had beaten 7-6 three weeks earlier in the regular season. After consecutive Class B state championship runs, Kennebunk moved to Class A but saw a two-goal, second-half lead evaporate against Massabesic.

Sophomore Lily Schwartzman looks to pass while running a drill during a Kennebunk girls’ practice last week. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“Last year was so heartbreaking to me, and I think it was heartbreaking for everyone,” said junior goalie Haley Moody, who drowned her personal sorrows in a cup of vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. “Part of the sadness and the defeat of last year is what’s fueling us. We want to be in that state championship game. We want to be holding up that trophy at the end.”

Graduation claimed four starters, including three who went on to play in collegiate programs. Hallie Schwartzman is at Colby, Mia Murray at Wheaton and Erin Gorton at Southern New Hampshire. Even so, there is plenty of continuity in a program that has appeared in seven state title games since 2002.

“We lost a lot of important seniors who had really big roles on our team,” said veteran defender Sophie Thompson, who played on state championship squads her first two years at Kennebunk.  “But I think the group of girls we have this year want to work hard to fill those roles. We have a lot of really good athletes this year and just a lot of girls who are passionate about the game and want to make a name for themselves.”

Senior Sophie Thompson, right, played on state championship squads her first two years at Kennebunk. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Thompson isn’t the only player with championship experience. Junior midfielder Mia Banglmaier, who missed last spring while recovering from ACL surgery, was a starter as a freshman. Junior midfielder Tiernan Connor also saw time in that 2017 title victory over Yarmouth.

Both Banglmaier and Connor have younger sisters on the team, sophomores Talia and Neely. That adds to the program’s closeness and continuity.

“Obviously, I want her to succeed and she wants me to succeed,” Mia Banglmaier said, “but then there’s that special sibling competitiveness that’s there, which makes practicing pretty fun. Like ground ball drills, when we’re paired up and we go against each other, it’s kind of fun to see who wins.”

The Rams will face an immediate test in their season opener Saturday when they host Greely. During school vacation week, Coach Annie Barker took the team to Point Lookout in Northport for three days and two nights of shared meals, team bonding, trust building and practice on a turf field.

“The kids really get to know each other, and that’s very important,” Barker said. “Part of being good lacrosse players is being there for each other. I’ve had teams that might have had the best talent, but if they didn’t bond, well, we should have won everything and we didn’t.”

The two years Kennebunk won state championships – in 2016 and 2017 – came about because the Rams coalesced around a common goal, Barker said.

“That’s a really big piece of the picture,” she said. “You’ve got to create that unit.”

Glenn Jordan can be reached at 791-6425 or:

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