New coaches, high expectations for Viera lacrosse teams


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Viera High School's Maddy Murawski, center, is one of three seniors on a girls lacrosse team that has won three straight district tittles.

Carl Kotala

A number of things have changed for the Viera High School boys and girls lacrosse teams this season. High expectations, however, remain the same.

While both teams have new coaches, they also have new districts and new regions after the FHSAA expanded lacrosse from one classification into two classes.

Viera is now in Class 2A.

“We absolutely should be the favorites to win our district,” first-year boys coach Bo Bartlett said. “I know Vero Beach will probably have something to say about that. But we have the potential. I would say we would be either the favorites, or a very close (contender) to winning our region.

“We really feel like this is a state-level team, especially with the new classifications in lacrosse. … Personally, if we don’t make it through regionals, I’ll be disappointed.”

Bartlett’s statement came just a few days before Brevard Public Schools were shut down — and high school sports suspended — until March 29. That date was later pushed back until April 15.

Viera’s boys, off to an 8-2 start, certainly had the look of a state-level contender, combining a potent offense with a quality defense.

“We have a lot of fast players that can run up and down the field,” junior co-captain Gavin Wessel said. “We have a lot of endurance. Our speed kills.

“My freshman year, we were kind of dependent on one or two players. But now, everybody’s come together. We have the chemistry to move the ball around. Our chemistry’s much better.”

Wessel is one of the area’s best face-off players while Nate DePlancke is the team’s top scorer. Other key players include Jared Weiss, Trevor Williams, Tracy Tucker, defensive captain Andy Boehm, Jack Hathaway and goalie Austin Jensen.

Viera’s girls, winners of the past three district titles, were 6-1 and riding a five-game winning streak.

“We have a lot of really strong players,” sophomore Lia Arbeeny said. “Honestly, I can’t think of one person that’s not a key player on our team.”

With seniors Tristen Chang and Maddy Murawski leading the way, the Hawks have a strong core with players like Arbeeny, Micki Pippett, Brianna Staerk, Lexi Fischer and defenders Olivia Vice, Jade Long, Annabelle Jimenez, Sophia Wargo and goalie Brooke Halfacre. 

“What I like so much about this team is the close bond that they have with each other,” first-year coach Alison Staerk said. “One of my goals for this year was to try to build a stronger culture.

“There was a strong one with the previous coach (Nick Bigerton), but I wanted to make it even stronger. I wanted the girls to be able to play together, count on each other and be truly a team. I think we’ve gotten there.”