By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Sherando, six games into its season, is still a developing team, though its 5-1 win over James Wood on Friday might suggest something to the contrary.
The Warriors saw two goals from senior Lainie Weadon, two goals from junior Krista DeCeault and played more like a team brimming with veterans, rather than a team still learning to detach itself from the goal-churning identity it fashioned last season.
The graduation of Nikki Rhodes -- now a freshman at Lynchburg College -- meant the loss of 27 goals; the graduations of Jesse Sites and Molly Hopkins -- also freshmen playing at the collegiate level -- meant the supposed loss of an experienced defense.
"There's a big difference now that Nikki's gone," Weadon said, "but we're adjusting."
They're also evolving.
Lately Sherando has relied on DeCeault to dazzle and create, and on Weadon and senior Brittini Dennis to score.
On Friday, the Warriors took a step forward -- though the usual suspects notched the points, the dazzling came from all over the pitch, and the creation came in new, enchanting ways.
In the 29th minute, a through-ball from DeCeault drifted to a soft roll in the right corner of the pitch. Senior Jenny Ice tracked it down, settled it and surveyed the rest of the field.
She lobbed a cross to the far post and off Weadon's brow.
The score was Sherando's second goal in a two-minute span. It was also a fascinating summation of Sherando's season thus far -- rather than rely on through-balls to Dennis, the Warriors have recently whetted their crosses from the flanks.
"I think it shows that we are very versatile, and we don't have to play just over top," Ice said. "If we play a different team, then we can possess it and we can play a bunch of different ways."
At James Wood, Sherando held possession for far longer than in previous games.
Aside from a few outbursts in the match's opening minutes, James Wood's possessions rarely lasted longer than a few passes. The Colonels took two shots in the first half -- one went wide right of the goal, the other landed in the waiting hands of Sherando keeper Briana Hudnall. James Wood scored on its only shot of the second half, when Catherine Woznak sent a dart off the crossbar.
It was hard for James Wood coach Jim Carden to assess his team's play: Freshman Emma Watts marked up well on Dennis, and the two combinations the Colonels put together in the first half were promising, though futile.
Still, not much can be said following a 5-1 loss.
"Against a good team, you make those errors, you pay, and that's what happened to us," Carden said. "Overall, I can't fault them for their effort -- we got a long way to go -- but we're also very young."
Though Dennis was held scoreless, bringing her five-game scoring streak to an end, the senior did have two assists, giving her three on the season. Her 24 career assists ranks third-most in Sherando history.
Weadon's two goals gives her six for the season, and ties her with Dennis for most on the team.
Ice's lob was her second assist this year.
"I think we're getting better and better as we go through," Sherando coach Rob Kilmer said, speaking of the Warriors' new tenacity for high-arching crosses. "I think we're pretty good on through-balls, and we can possess the ball -- we can win balls out of the air ... the next step for us is to get those crosses.
"It's all part of the progression. From that we'll move on to something else -- try to get better."