More seasoned Lady Cavs on the move

Published 10:11 pm Friday, August 21, 2015

Lakeland High School’s Shannon Leonard, left, will apply her extensive varsity experience to the Lady Cavaliers’ forward line this year after having served as a midfielder in the past.

Lakeland High School’s Shannon Leonard, left, will apply her extensive varsity experience to the Lady Cavaliers’ forward line this year after having served as a midfielder in the past.

The road was rough for Lakeland High School’s field hockey team last season, but the Lady Cavaliers are looking to take back lost ground with their performance this year.

Lakeland coach Cortney Parker has a well-balanced roster, featuring plenty of experience. The team had only one senior last year, goalkeeper Erin Bradshaw, giving it plenty of returners.

The Lady Cavs are used to an extremely high level of success thanks to the legacy that former coach Tara Worley established.


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Parker helped her establish that legacy as an assistant coach, but she had the daunting task of following Worley as head coach last year, and she did it with a young team.

In 2014, the Lady Cavaliers finished 9-10 overall, qualifying for the Region 4A South playoffs. Their season ended in the regional quarterfinals via a 3-0 loss to Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School.

The 2015 objectives are clear for Parker and her players.

“We want a winning record,” she said, adding they want to come back and beat the teams they lost to last year. “And obviously a conference title is our main objective.”

Lakeland will not be vying for an Ironclad Conference title anymore, though, as it is now part of Conference 27. The change accompanies the school’s move to the Virginia High School League’s Group 3A classification, which groups Lakeland with a set of smaller schools similar to it in size.

But Parker said she does not feel like the move makes much of a difference for her team. She noted Tabb High School won the 4A state championship last year, and it has moved down to 3A this year, too.

Furthermore, the Lady Tigers will likely be standing directly in Lakeland’s way to postseason success.

“They’re going to be the top contender in our actual conference,” Parker said.

The Lady Cavs’ conference mates also include Booker T. Washington, I.C. Norcom, Phoebus and York high schools.

Of York, Parker said, “They’re a pretty strong program, too.”

Lakeland does not have to play all of the conference teams during the regular season, and it is set to play only Tabb and York.

Six seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen populate the Lady Cavaliers’ roster this season.

Parker expects senior Stasha Waterfield to be a standout. She will be moving from a defensive focus last year to the midfield position.

“She brings that competitor of a senior who’s had that experience at the higher level,” Parker said. “She brings strength, depth.”

Another returning player with substantial experience is senior Shannon Leonard, formerly a midfielder.

“She’ll be on my forward line this year,” Parker said.

Junior Kendall Lewis is back after a promising sophomore campaign and will play in the midfield. Parker expects her to help the team make transitions from defense to offense.

“We want her scoring goals, too,” the coach said.

On defense, Parker will be relying upon juniors Kaylene Thomas and Haley Beale.

Competing to replace four-year starter Erin Bradshaw in goal are senior Ariel Salerno and junior Deleah Scott.

Parker highlighted freshman Allison Thompson as an up-and-comer after watching her excel at a variety of positions in a recent scrimmage.

“She’s going to bring versatility off the bench,” the coach said. “She has power, she has a lot of strength.”

Trying to shore up her team’s past weaknesses, Parker has been helping enhance her players’ abilities to score goals.

“That was a struggle for us last year, so we’ve been focusing on that in the preseason,” she said.

Lakeland begins its season by hosting Western Branch High School on Aug. 24.