As spring nears, Stuyvesant’s boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams pick up their sticks and begin preparing for the upcoming season. However, a lot has changed this year for both teams. The Peglegs and Huskies, Stuyvesant’s boys’ and girls’ varsity lacrosse teams, respectively, participated in the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) for the first time last year, bringing lacrosse to Stuyvesant for the first time ever.
After a season encumbered by administrative proceedings, relative unfamiliarity with the new sport and excitement over their commendable milestone, the Peglegs and the Huskies hope to pick up where they left of and continue sharpening their skills.
But along with this drive to succeed, the teams have been confronted with recent changes in their schedules that have forced them to adjust accordingly. Both teams were removed from the developmental league and are now playing in larger divisions with tougher teams. The boys’ lacrosse team, which played in a two-team division along with Albert Tuitt Educational Campus last year, will be playing in a seven-team division this spring with schools such as Lehman High School and Madison High School.
The Peglegs played sparingly last year, participating in only four non-league games and the annual citywide Mayor’s Cup tournament. Their only league game against Tuitt was cancelled. This year, however, the Peglegs are guaranteed at least twelve league games in their new division and also intend to play in non-league games and the Mayor’s Cup once again.
Many of the players believe that the division change will be an exciting test of their abilities. “[The division change] pits us against teams that were in the upper division last year,” senior and co-captain Joshua Levitt said. “It’ll be an interesting challenge to see how we do against them.”
While the players are thrilled about their eventful schedule, the Peglegs are still aware that they will need to work hard in order to be successful. “If we are going to win games this year, we’re going to have to work much harder than last year. Winning the division isn’t impossible-it just requires a lot of effort,” senior co-captain Zakhar Sthtulberg said.
In light of the new division, coach Shawn Mullen and seniors and co-captains Levitt, Shtulberg and Christopher Zhao have also taken on a more stringent mindset with the team. Players have been requested to attend regularly scheduled lacrosse clinics at Frederick Douglass Academy, where they have the opportunity to practice with more experienced players and coaches. With pre-season conditioning also starting earlier, Shtulberg is already aware of how much the players have grown and is excited to see how they will fare in the new division. “It’ll be nice to have a chance to show that we have come a long way in only our second year,” he said.
The upcoming season also poses a new challenge for the Huskies and coach Holly Younglove. Like the Peglegs, the girls’ lacrosse team played infrequently with other teams in the city last year. This season, however, the Huskies have also been removed from the developmental league and are now placed in an 11-team division that guarantees much more playing time. For a lot of the players, the new division offers the perfect opportunity to showcase their skills. “[The division change] is good because it gives us the chance to earn the respect we deserve,” senior and co-captain Anna Zhang said.
Although many of the players are excited about the new transition, many are also cognizant of the additional pressure placed on them. “Last year we played with the intent of learning the different skills of the game,” sophomore and co-captain Nicole Brzezinski said. “But this year every win or loss will affect whether or not the team goes to the playoffs.”
Furthermore, with players who have yet to play in an official game, the Huskies are still a fairly inexperienced team. “[The new division] is a little bit intimidating because we’re going against schools with girls who have been playing for a long time,” Zhang said. Still, Zhang has seen a lot of potential in her returning and new players and hopes to capitalize on the fresh talent.
Hoping to prepare the players for the upcoming season, co-captains Zhang and Brzezinski have started a lacrosse club that meets weekly to help new players develop their skills and conditioning earlier. While Brzezinski is undoubtedly anxious that the transition into the new division will be tough, she is steadfast in her positive expectations for the team. “I know this year the team is going to be stronger because we’re having tryouts and doing all the necessary training,” Brzezinski said.