Lee’s Emmilyn MacNayr works during preseason practice drills in the school’s parking lot.
Lee's Emmilyn MacNayr works during preseason practice drills in the school's parking lot. (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff / photos.berkshireeagle.com)

LEE -- It seems the Lee girls found the winning formula in the first two seasons girls lacrosse has been a varsity sport in Berkshire County.

The Wildcats are the two-time defending league champions and are the only county team to win a postseason game. Success quickly became expected at Lee, as did scoring at a high rate.

Everyone knew how the Wildcats were going to attack -- the ball would start up high and almost always find the stick of Megan Gaul or Moriah McKenna before landing behind the opposing goalkeeper.

That may not how the offense will run this year, which will test Lee's ability to adapt.

Both Gaul and McKenna have graduated, but last year's leading scorer, Lydia Graham, is still wearing a Lee jersey. Based on position and experience, the Wildcat offense will try to set up shop deeper in the attacking zone.

"I think we're going to try to start doing that a little bit and see how it goes," said Lee coach Dave Galisa, whose team is off to a 2-1 start. "I think we'll try that, and we may have to switch back to playing up high. We'll see how some of the people do."

One of those people is Graham. The senior home was the prime beneficiary of passes originating from Gaul and McKenna last year. She was able to find the soft spots in defenses and convert.

If the offense is to begin closer to the goal and maybe behind it, there will be more pressure on Graham.

"I have to kind of pay attention to the entire field, too," she said. "I've always been focused on my area like home's behind the goal, in front of the goal, but not the entire field. I kind of have to watch that more too, which is something I got to get used to and learn more."

She admits filling the holes McKenna and Gaul left will be tough, but is encouraged by the new faces on the senior-laden team. Late in the preseason, she said she hasn't had much time to work with the other homes because of the area -- parking lot -- the team had been practicing on. Once the snow melted, the Wildcats moved onto a patch of grass not even as big as half of their field.

As Galisa said, the offense will be a trial-and-error process in the early going, but it seems one person that will have the ball in her stick much of the time is Graham.

"It's pretty exciting. It's kind of nerve-wracking because I've always looked up to the captains last year, Megan and Moriah who had the ball in control all the time," she said. "I was kind of learning from them, and now they're gone, so I kind of have to take charge. It's different, but I like it."

To reach Josh Colligan:
jcolligan@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6297.