BRATTLEBORO — Current Academy School Principal Kelly (Johnston) Dias was a tri-captain when Brattleboro Union High School's girls lacrosse team reached varsity status in 2001.
Nineteen years later, the Colonels were in position to capture the program's first state championship.
And then, on April 30, Vermont's spring sports season was suddenly canceled.
"It is hard to have the season disappear, and I will miss the great experiences this team has given me every year — practices on beautiful Famolare Field, playing under the lights on Natowich Field, the intense competition, and the incredible fun," said BUHS girls lax coach Michael Lonergan.
He has built up a program that was started by Nancy Lewis, who directed the team during its club years and was the head coach for the 2001 season.
"Any coach would be excited to have a team with 10 returning seniors, and there was a lot of potential there for a successful season," added Lonergan. "Regardless of what our record may have been or how far we may have gone in the state tournament, we would have been very competitive, worked hard, and would have made a lot of great memories while doing it."
The Colonels went 14-4 in 2018, including a 7-6 home loss to Middlebury in a Division 1 semifinal. The purple and white then went 12-6 last spring, ending with a loss to Rutland in the second round of the playoffs.
"I started coaching lacrosse nine years ago, and several of these current players were a part of that group: Tobin Lonergan, Eliya Petrie, Lucy Szpila, Avalon Johnston, and Brianna Paul. By the end of middle school, many of the others were playing too, so it has been several years that most of them have been playing together," mentioned coach Lonergan.
Tobin Lonergan was on pace to set scoring records at BUHS, with 182 goals and 58 assists in her varsity career. Olivia Romo (78 goals, 8 assists) was likely to reach the 100-goal milestone.
Those two, along with Lauryn Sargent and Szpila, will be playing lacrosse in college.
The Colonels would have returned their entire defense from last season, anchored by Petrie (goalie), Lucy Szpila, Sargent, Samantha Martin, Amelia Glickman and Grace Szpila. Juniper DiMatteo-LePape, Lila Alexander and Sophia Mikijaniec would have brought speed, reliability, and determination to the midfield.
"Our attack would have consisted of seniors Tobin Lonergan, Liv Romo, Avalon Johnston, and junior Brianna Paul. It would have been exciting to see this group work together, given their passing and shooting skills," stated the BUHS coach.
The team has a cool tradition called shout-outs, which is when the players gather in a circle after each game and take turns saying something positive about a teammate's performance.
"This has been an incredible group of seniors to work with over the years," coach Lonergan said. "It has been exciting to watch them develop as players, as a team, and as friends. I will miss them."
Would-be returning varsity players: Seniors — Tobin Lonergan, Olivia Romo, Eliya Petrie, Lauryn Sargent, Lucy Szpila, Samantha Martin, Juniper DiMatteo-LePape, Lila Alexander, Amelia Glickman, Avalon Johnston, Edie Cay (manager). Junior — Brianna Paul. Sophomores — Grace Szpila, Sophia Mikijaniec.
Other seniors in the lacrosse program (these players were on JV last year): Amanda Frankiewicz, Mirra Macy, Lauren Serafino, Lauren Fenstermaker, Devi Ethier, Mackenzie Neal.