Since a team is only as good as its individual parts, Jessica Sanna knew going into this season that her coaching would focus on the fundamentals. Sanna, who teaches in the East Hampton School District, returned to coach the high school girls lacrosse this year after a season away. It was a tough season in terms of results — the team finished with a 1-15 record — but Sanna took measures of success in other ways.
“All of our players worked really hard this season,” she said. “Many of them are young and inexperienced. They grew tremendously. One of our main goals this year was to work on understanding the game and improving our lacrosse IQ. We were definitely able to do that.”
Sanna mentioned stick work and ground balls as routine skills her players developed during the course of the season, along with passing and defense. The team was young, with only four seniors including Pierson’s Sophia Bitis and Kristin Pettigrew, but the talent is strong in the lower grades. Pierson sophomore Grace Perello is athletic and quickly developing into a talented lacrosse player. She scored 49 goals and had 62 draw controls over the course of the season.
“She is focused, determined and hardworking and we expect to see her continue to improve over the next two years,” Sanna said. “Grace is essential to our midfield. Her speed and defensive skills benefit us on both sides of the field.”
Pierson’s Emma Rascelles is a natural lacrosse player who joined the varsity team this season as an eighth grader. “Her stick skills are hands down some of the best on the team,” Sanna said. “Over the next few years, I’d like to see her step up more and be more aggressive toward the goal. As she continues to grow and mature as a player, I think she will be a player to watch in the near future.”
East Hampton competes in Division II and in Suffolk County, which is a hotbed for the sport of lacrosse. And despite the bangs and bruises the team suffered this season, Sanna believes the Lady Bonackers are fortunate to compete on Long Island.
“We are able to play with some of the best coaches and players in the country,” she said. “Our biggest focus is to grow from the bottom up. It begins with the youth program. The other component is playing in the offseason. If our program wants to grow to become competitive, then it is key that they keep a stick in their hands.”
Bitis, who plans to play lacrosse in college next season, helped run the East Hampton offense this year, and will be missed, according to her coach.
“She sees the field well, she’s smart and her teammates trust her with the ball,” said Sanna, whose program will also lose East Hampton seniors Kenverly Munoz and Emily Lupercio. “We will definitely miss her presence on the field next year and we’re excited to see what she goes on to do in college.”