The future is bright for Cathedral High School girls lacrosse.
The Irish in 2023 were a solid team, with multiple impressive victories. They accomplished those with a motivated – and hard-working team – that played well together through difficult circumstances.
That produced a lot of memorable moments. And a strong foundation.
“I love this team,” Irish girls lacrosse coach Mary Ann White said. “This was a development year. It was a growing year. They were willing to grow, willing to fight. They were so coachable.”
The Irish, long a strong area program with a history of postseason success, finished the 2023 season 6-9. They lost to Penn, 11-7, in the first round of the Indiana Girls Lacrosse Association state tournament.
“They were very team-oriented, a very big team mindset,” White said. “They wanted what's best for each other. They wanted to do what was best.
“We spent a lot of time this season growing and developing our skills, how we work together. They wanted to do their best. Even when they didn’t play great games, it wasn’t because there was no effort.”
The Irish in 2023 were led by a core group of seven seniors. They were:
*Kara McCarthy, goalkeeper. She saved 88 of 165 shots on goal. A starter each of the past two seasons, McCarthy played through injuries and remained a leader as a senior. “She’s a solid presence on our defense and it has been really reassuring having her in cage,” White said. “She’s a leader on the field that we're going to miss next season.”
*Maggie Thor, a captain who played multiple positions: two goals, two assists. “She's a kid I played all across the field depending on who’s in, who’s out, what do we need?” White said. “She knows how to turn it on. I thought of her as kind of the temperature for the team. When Maggie was on, the rest of the team was on. She was somebody the girls trusted and looked up to.”
*Lucy Clark, an attacker who overcame a concussion as a senior: one goal, five assists. “She’s a selfless player,” White said. “She really moves the ball around and picking up and cleaning up if we lose possession too early.”
*Lea White, midfield: three goals. “I played her across the field,” White said. “She’s a really good hustler. She does the little things that maybe aren't super stat-heavy but make a huge impact on the team and on the pace in the game.”
*Natalie Graham, defender: one assist. “She was a strong presence,” White said. “She was able this season to kind of swoop in and take a position of somebody who knows a lot and who’s been on the defensive side. The girls looked up to her down there. She always played the most far back position and directed the rest of the team on where to go.”
*Delaney White, defender. “She was really strong low around the crease area,” White said.
*Natalia Vega, checker: two goals one assist. “She did a nice job keeping things organized, moving the ball around – similar to what Lucy did,” White said. “She gained confidence over the course of the season.”
White said the Irish as a whole in 2023 “played our best when we played fast, when we played together.”
“Our best moments were when we worked as a team,” she said. “For better or worse, we didn’t really have a star. We had very, very good players, but I would not say that we had one superstar.
“I prefer to coach a team like that. It gives everyone the opportunity to step up if somebody has an off day or if somebody's getting more pressure from the opposing team, it doesn't shut us all down. Somebody else can step up and take that spot.
“Our strength was when we worked together.”
Also key: Junior attacker Layna Fitzgerald (32 goals, eight assists) and junior midfielder Chloe Cox (five goals, four assists), the two captains other than Thor who figure to lead a 2024 team that will return a strong core.
“I'm really excited to have those two back,” White said. “They're girls I coach over the summer. They get a lot of minutes in club and it's been awesome to coach them through the school year and through the club and see how they've grown over that time.”
And White said she expects that core to lead a program that should continue to play – and achieve – at a high level moving forward.
“We have a strong program,” she said. “We’ve worked for the last few years to develop a solid base. The girls understand what's expected of them. They want to do well. We take pride in the name on our jerseys. We take pride in the work we do. They want to win and they want to do perform and they want to get better.
“We lost a big group of seniors from last year and we still have a basic expectation of ourselves. We hold ourselves to high standards. These girls did everything that was asked of them and they got better. We did the best we could in a developing year and that's going to get us up for a stronger season next year.”