North Meck girls lacrosse overcomes odds, take to field
by Chris Hunt
The North Mecklenburg High girls lacrosse program lost its first two matches of the 2011 season. With just 16 players, many whom are new to lacrosse, the Vikings will be challenged to win just a handful of games this spring.
Yet on a cool March afternoon, the Vikings were smiling, enjoying practice. Victories might be hard to come by, but the players agree that the season’s already a success.
That’s because the Vikings are playing lacrosse.
Before the season, North Meck’s club varsity program was in doubt. Lagging interest in the sport persuaded boosters to cancel the boys season last fall, and it also threatened the girls’ spring campaign. In the past, Viking lacrosse had plenty of interest to field boys and girls squads, but most of those players now attend Hough High.
Even so, six returning North Meck girls players refused to give up on the season. Marieke Wood, Natalie Vacrro, Grace Lassiter, Kathleen Carrelli and Katie Frerick didn’t see much interest from new players during off-season workouts yet still kept hope and stayed in shape, trusting there’d be another season.
As it turns out, all the Vikings had to do was believe.
That was the message from first-year coach Allie Molchan, who’s still a college student at UNC Charlotte and plays for the 49ers’ club program. Molchan is just a few years older than the players she coaches, but she’s managed to rally the Vikings around one word: believe.
“I pick a word for each season, and this year the word is ‘believe,’” said Molchan. “We had only a few players show up for off-season conditioning, and the returning players were upset that they might not have a season. I told them to believe it would happen. I said, ‘If you want this to happen, you’ve got to make it happen.’”
Inspired, the players took to the hallways, recruiting any student who would listen. They hung posters on school walls and produced recruiting messages for the school’s internal TV broadcasting system, the Viking News Network.
Only 12 people showed up to the first practice, but a day before the season opener, North Meck had 16 players. That’s one more player than the minimum required by the lacrosse boosters program. Had only 14 players shown up, the lacrosse boosters would’ve canceled the season.
“We just talked to every girl we could,” said Wright, a co-captain who leads the team with four goals. “We got tons of no’s. Some girls couldn’t afford the $250 we pay to play because we are a club sport and others were scared about the contact. They didn’t know the rules that there’s no contact in girls lacrosse.”
On March 8, North Mecklenburg lost its opener to Ardey Kell, 16-2. That was followed by a 20-4 loss to conference rival Lake Norman. But looking back on that game, the Vikings felt they had already won before the first whistle.
“Our first game against Ardrey Kell was a triumph to have everyone out there,” said co-captain Wood. “It didn’t matter that we lost because we were out there playing together.”