Viera lacrosse teams will challenge for district championships
Viera's Micki Pippett, right, is having a big impact as a freshman on this year's varsity team. The defending district champions are hoping to make it two in a row.
Viera Voice Carl Kotala
Expectations are high for both the Viera High boys and girls lacrosse teams this season.
And for Viera’s girls team, that feeling is a little new.
“Last year, it was like, ‘Do what you can,’ ” girls coach Nick Bigerton said with a laugh. “Now, it’s like ‘let’s see if you can do what you did last year, if not better.’ ”
The Hawks made a splash last year, winning their first district title by beating Rockledge in the title game.
Viera is a contender once again this season, with a team led by Tristen Chang, Grace Blythe, Micki Pippett, Brianna Staerk, Emma Koons, Nicole Blanchard and goalie Tabby Caldwell.
Whereas last year’s team only had 28 healthy players to field two teams, the Hawks have gotten an infusion of young talent this season. Their numbers have swelled to 44 in the program, including 18 freshmen.
“I have a lot of players (now),” Bigerton said. “Some are really experienced. They’ve been playing the game since fifth grade. Some are brand new to the sport. They may be athletes, but they’ve never played athletics with a lacrosse stick and a ball in their hands.
“We’re trying to maintain that balance of developing new players while also kind of crafting and sharpening the ones that have been around for a little bit.”
Although Viera faces a big challenge in Edgewood, the Hawks believe they’re more versatile offensively this year than they were during their championship run.
“We have great midfielders and awesome attackmen,” Blythe said. “We all can shoot, too. Last year, there were maybe five of us that could shoot. Now, it’s much more even.”
It only takes a few minutes of watching the Viera boys team to realize that not only can the Hawks shoot, they’ve also got some wicked speed, and that can only lead to more scoring opportunities.
“They’re very fast,” Viera boys coach Charlie Crawford said. “We have a couple of good face-off guys. They’re really quick coming down the field on the fast break. The defense is pretty solid. They need to stop ball watching, but other than that, they’re doing pretty good.”
The Hawks certainly have a talented roster with offensive standouts Nate DePlancke, Jared Weiss, Nick Rodriguez and Dylan Parrilla. Goalie Nick Rossi, Tyler Bartlett, Joe Altieri and Parrilla are the team captains. And Viera also has five impact freshmen, including starters Bryce Norton, Gavin Wessel and Weiss.
“The freshmen have helped out a lot,” Parrilla said. “They’ve definitely shown what they’ve got.”
That has the Hawks thinking about a deep postseason run.
“I think we’re capable of making it far this year — districts, a good chance at regionals and hopefully states,” Parrilla said.