Battling the slippery field conditions and rainy weather, Andover Girls Lacrosse kicked off the season with a closely contested scrimmage against Middlesex on Wednesday. Even with the loss of Kaitlin Gaiss ’09 and seven other Seniors, the team hopes to hold up to its standard of ranking as one of the top teams in New England. “While we lost some of our strongest anchors on the team, we gained a lot of strength from new students and JV players who are moving up to the varsity team. I think that our team will do well against the strong competition of the prep school lacrosse league,” said Haley Scott ’11. The large number of girls in tryouts created intense competition for spots on the team and gave Coach Kate Dolan a talented squad to work with. Co-Captain Kyleigh Keating ’10 said, “I think that we are looking at a really good lacrosse team in the making, and I am so excited for this season.” Keating leads the team’s attack and handles many of the team’s face-offs along with Emily Rademacher ’11. Although their speed, stick handling and playmaking abilities, as well as those of attackers Brooke Van Valkenburg ’12 and Summer Washburn ’11, create a dynamic scoring attack, the team still strives to perfect its offense. Kellie Walsh ’11 said, “Today’s scrimmage gave us a good opportunity to see what we need to work on. On offense, we need to work on settling the ball.” Sam Lawson ’10, Co-Captain Katherine Sherrill ’10, post-graduate Julia Rafferty ’10 and Scott head up the team’s defense and strives to force other teams to take low-percentage shots on new goalies Mallory Tyler ’12 and Sarah Schuchardt ’11. Midfielder Maggie Law ’10 contributes on both ends of the field, as she is known for her speed and distribution of the ball to the attack. Keating and Van Valkenburg started the season off on the right foot in the scrimmage, adding three and two goals respectively, including a goal from Keating in the last 45 seconds of the game. Washburn also netted two goals of her own. Stellar defense from Rafferty prevented many fastbreaks and kept the game close until the end. Sherrill, Lawson, and Scott also contributed to the Andover defense, initiating turnovers and slowing the Middlesex offense. Tyler and Schuchardt split the game in goal, each making several astonishing saves. In one of the most impressive plays of the game, Tyler blocked two shots in the last ten seconds of the first half. Despite these efforts from the offense, defense and goalies, the game ended in a 9-12 loss. “We played the first half well, but we had a lot of trouble possessing the ball on offense in the second half. There are a lot of easy things that we can fix. We just need time to work on them,” said Washburn. Andover will travel to Noble and Greenough on Saturday.