Pirate girls too close in loss to Lawrence

Shemming sees improving South lacrosse

By: Justin Feil
   The West Windsor-Plainsboro South girls’ lacrosse team might be well suited to join the new Pirate girls’ golf team.
   The Pirates treated Lawrence goalie Erica Nagy like the flag in a closest to the pin contest. They sent almost 40 shots at her, and less than half got by in a 14-13 loss Friday. Most were right at Nagy.
   "I had my fair share that went to her too," said Kristina Shemming, who led the Pirates with four goals. "In general, a lot of times the score doesn’t reflect the games we’re in. A lot of times we get the ball up front. We just don’t score.
   "We’re a pretty experienced team this year. We’re pretty good at moving the ball up field. When we get inside 8 meters, we freeze. We don’t make good decisions like do across the rest of the field."
   Shemming, one of six seniors for WW-P South, admits that it’s frustrating to dominate without seeing results, but she has een plenty of improvement in the Pirates, who slipped to 1-4 with Friday’s loss. She’d just like to see some of that improvement start to show in their record as they play at Hightstown today before hosting rival West Windsor-Plainsboro North on Thursday.
   "Our record doesn’t show how much we’ve improved," she said. "As far as coming together as a team, and just possession of the ball and working the ball down the field, it looks so much cleaner. Now we just have to work out the small stuff."
   Like finding that open space around opponents’ goalies, and playing a little stiffer defense. It’s all part of the learning curve. Of course, the Pirates’ schedule hasn’t been too kind. Their first three opponents are a combined 15-5. After Hightstown, their next three opponents are a combined 13-3. The Pirates have the ability to step up to those challenges.
   "We have more depth than last year but we still have a lot of young girls," said Pirates head coach Kris Javick. "We have one freshman. We have a bunch of sophomores. But our transitions have been really good. They’re starting to make nice connections with each other. They’re starting to mesh with each other as a team. It’s still keeping them consistent for 50 minutes.
   "It’s probably game by game, I’ve seen it in them," she added of the improving play. "We’ll have one game, and talk about the stuff we saw in it and I’ll see the improvement in the next game and then we’ll talk about something else. So they are improving."
   Shemming’s improvement in her four years has been steady. Though it is her third sport behind soccer, which she’ll continue to play in college next fall, and basketball, she went from just using her athleticism as a freshman to developing some stick skills that have enabled her to be a solid scoring threat.
   "I just picked it up freshman year," said Shemming, who will play soccer at Marist or Gettysburg. "The fundamentals are the same. It’s so similar to basketball and soccer. I finally got the catching down."
   Added Javick, "She gives 110 percent all the time. We need that."
   Shemming, who has a career-high five goals in a game, helped ignite an offense that has not scored in double figures in three of its last five games. The Pirates have found the net more and more with each contest, and that number should have been even higher Friday if WW-P South had put shots just a few inches wider either way.
   "We do tons of practice on it," Shemming said. "Ms. Javick does all these drills with us shooting in the 8 meter. A lot of practice is game-realistic drills. If we keep practicing, we’ll get it down. If we keep doing what we’re doing, I think it will click."
   When it all clicks, it could be pretty good for the Pirates. WW-P South has a number of players back who gained varsity experience last year. This year’s team appears to be more dangerous. It’s something that Javick has liked so far.
   "We’ve had a lot of girls scoring," she said. "Every game, we have four or five scorers. That’s something we didn’t have last year. It’s nice to have that. If a team shuts down one of our players, we have other players we can go to."
   The team play has kept the Pirates together through a difficult start. They continue to strive for the potential they see in this year’s squad.
   "We have a lot of returners from last year," Shemming said. "We’re so much better at moving the ball. We’re a lot stronger than last year. I think people are optimistic about the rest of season even though our record isn’t the strongest because of that. They see we’re better than last year. We have potential to do a lot of things this year."
   With the offense starting to develop into one that can pressure any opponent, the Pirates are also working on tightening their defense. Lawrence used swift runs by three of its top players for the majority of its goals Friday.
   "Our defense positioning, we’re always there with our girls, but we’ve been working on our footwork so much there," Shemming said. "We have a lot of problems playing one-on-one defense all across the field. That was really apparent against Lawrence. It’s so hard to know how to move your feet. We work on it."
   The Pirates hope to have it ironed out today for a win over Hightstown before getting to a game they are all looking forward to. WW-P South is hoping for its first win over WW-P North since Shemming has been there.
   "I think that would be so good for our team," she said. "I think a lot of people keep looking forward to that game. We’re a huge underdog. People are looking to surprise them."
   Added Javick, "North is always a different game. It’s a whole different caliber of game. No matter what kind of team you have, they always step up. North-South is always going to be another level."
   Just being close, and closest to the pin, won’t be good enough for the WW-P South girls’ lacrosse team.