Sussex Academy girls’ lacrosse determined to keep building

Seahawks return all starters on defense, inject youth into offense
March 11, 2024

Following back-to-back trips to the semifinals of the DIAA girls’ lacrosse tournament, Sussex Academy is hoping to continue making its mark on the Delaware lax scene.

“We have a lot of returning varsity players this year,” said coach Taylor Gibbs. “Expectations are really high. We are expecting to pick up right back where we left off last year.”

A defense that surrendered double-digit goals just six times in 17 games and an offense that scored at least 15 goals 11 times are two reasons the Seahawks are optimistic.

“One of our strengths is that all of our starting defenders are returning this year, so we’ll have a very solid defensive line,” Gibbs said.

Juniors Quinn Nutter, Savannah Montgomery, Paige Burton and goalie Morgan Leeper make up the defense alongside sophomores Ava Yenovkian and Lily Bisaha.

The lone senior on the squad, Callie Short, led the team in assists last year with nine and was tied for fourth in goals. 

“I think we have a lot of growth and potential,” Short said, “I want to be a leader and set an example for the younger and returning girls.”

Spearheading the offense with Short on attack are juniors Shelby Manlove (midfield) and Emiley Bisaha (attack), who scored eight and seven goals, respectively. Bisaha recently committed to play lacrosse at Salisbury University.

Junior Rilyn Lehman joins Manlove at midfield and along with fellow junior Julie Daniello could play a big role in transition for the Seahawks. Sophomore Shea Danahy, like Daniello, is versatile enough to also play attack after netting four goals in her freshman year. 

“We might be a smaller team, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Gibbs said. “It means we have added strengths throughout the positions.”

As a rising program in Delaware, Sussex Academy’s schedule is indicative of a team willing to prove itself against top competition.

“We have some really competitive games sprinkled throughout the season,” Gibbs said.

The players believe the status as a small school juxtaposed with their tough schedule is a badge of honor.

“You feel like you have something to prove, because no one expects you to be able to even have an opportunity to play top schools,” Nutter said. “In years past, we haven’t had the chance, but each year we’re just getting better and our competition is getting harder.”

Sussex Academy will open the season at home against North Caroline Friday, March 21. The Seahawks will host three more Maryland schools in 2024 – Kent Island, Queen Anne’s County and Parkside. Defending state champion Tatnall will welcome the Seahawks Saturday, April 6, and Sussex Academy will travel Friday, April 12, to face last year’s runner-up, Cape Henlopen.

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