With a formula that included team work, confidence and tenacity, the Kittatinny High School girl’s lacrosse program had a successful 2022 campaign, with an overall record of 10-8 and an impressive mark of 6-1 in the NJIGLL Colonial North Division competition.
“Our contests that stand out the most were our games against Park Regional and Sparta,” Kittatinny head coach Michelle Paluzzi said. “We defeated Park Regional, 10-9, in the last seconds of the game. The game was evenly matched and back and forth.
“We played Sparta twice this season, once in Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex and once as a crossover game. Sparta is an extremely talented program with several advanced players. We knew we had to come out bringing our A game. Although the game was back and forth, we lost by just four goals. Fast forward a week, we match up again, reflecting on where we could make improvements. We fought neck and neck, just missing the win by two goals. The girls showed true grit and toughness in this game.”
Leadership was very prevalent for Kittatinny this past season.
“All three senior captains emerged as leaders,” Paluzzi said. “Delaney Campanella, Lara Kruck and Cassidy Mulroy led the team on and off the field. The girls made sure to come up with creative team bonding activities, help support the team through fundraisers and in times of need always made sure everyone was included.”
Coach Paluzzi was impressed with the progress of each and every student athlete on the roster this year.
“All athletes improved their lacrosse IQ, competitiveness and teamwork,” Paluzzi said. “We focused on communication and ball movement on and off the field. Three of the biggest standouts this year, who showed improvement from last season to this season, were junior Aniella Casper and sophomores Laney Keates and Cameron Volpe. These three field players advanced to varsity and earned a starting varsity spot this season. They played the majority of the games and made significant impact on the field.
“Emilie Woollen and Julie Curtis, both sophomores, also earned a starting varsity position as well. Both of these players shared their lacrosse expertise and experience as returning varsity players from last season.”
The Cougars advanced to the NJSIAA North Jersey Group 1 Sectional Tournament where they lost a close game to Kinnelon. There is a sense of optimism about the future of the team.
“Although it is extremely difficult to see the seniors graduate, we are returning almost our entire varsity line up,’’ Paluzzi said. “I am excited to see sophomore goalie Sophia Belardo jump in goal on the varsity field to showcase her advanced skills. We are moving to the Freedom North Division based on lax numbers and our performance this season. We are excited to face more advanced competition next season with opponents such as Pequannock, Mount Olive, Indian Hills and Kinnelon.”
There were a number of prideful moments for Kittatinny girl’s lacrosse this spring provided by coach Paluzzi. The team participated in Play Pink /Hope for a Game, raised $1,500 for breast cancer awareness; donated to Susan G. Koman and a teammate’s family who was in need; and played in support of eighth grade lacrosse player Johnny Sebecke who was recently diagnosed with leukemia.