Whitman Girls Lacrosse One of Montgomery County's Best in 2017

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Few girls lacrosse teams in Montgomery County can claim to be playing as well as Whitman at the moment.

The Vikings are riding high on a seven game winning streak, outscoring opponents 91-40. Whitman is 8-1 as a result, the lone team in Montgomery County to not suffer multiple defeats. The team is also unbeaten against MPSSAA opponents, with the Vikings' lone loss coming against Holy Child.

It should come as no surprise that Whitman is thriving this season, considering the group has become a consistent force in Montgomery County since sisters Katie Bitonti and Lindsay Burch took over as co-head coaches five years ago. The Vikings have won MPSSAA regional titles twice during the duo's tenure.

"We strive to continue to build depth on the team so that we never have to rely on one or two players ever," Bitonti said. "Injuries, illnesses, off-games, graduations- they all happen throughout the season and we never want to be in a position where we don't have players to fill the voids and help continue the team's success."

That emphasis on depth is why Whitman is having a standout season despite losing five seniors from last year's team which finished 11-3. It's a younger group this year for sure with only three seniors on the roster, but the trio has provided superb leadership for their younger teammates.

One of those senior leaders is Eden Gray, who plays centrally in attack. Bitonti credited her with doing an excellent job of taking control of Whitman's offense, and helping her teammates stay composed.

The attack has also been bolstered by the tireless play of sophomore midfielders Julia Curran and Hanna Freund, who Bitonti said do an excellent job of making an impact on both ends of the field.

Though those three have stood out, it's been a total team effort as Whitman's offense has gotten off to a prolific start, averaging just over 12 goals a game.

"Their goal every game is to keep the ball in constant motion and to spread the defense making room for their cuts," Bitonti said. "The offense connects really well together, and they are constantly looking for each other for assisted goals as opposed to relying on certain individuals to get the score. They have a lot of fun playing together and playing every game for each other."

The defense has done a good job as well, with a pair of juniors in defender Briann O'Hara and goalie Claire Hisle leading the unit. The group has been a stingy one for much of the year, with Bitonti crediting the players at the back with dictating the outcome of most of Whitman's games thus far.

The defense was particularly effective in containing the powerful offenses of traditional juggernauts Sherwood and Churchill. Whitman won both contests 8-7, which was the least amount of goals Sherwood has scored against a Montgomery County opponent, and the lowest Churchill has tallied in any game all season.

Both wins have been huge confidence boosters for the Vikings, especially the Sherwood victory which was the Warriors' first loss in county play since 2012.

"I think it's important to have both won and lost close games," Bitonti said. "It sets the bar. It reminds the girls that no team is invincible, and now they know how hard they need to work if they want to continue their success into playoffs."

A strong postseason showing is what Whitman is hoping for in the next few weeks. Despite the strong record last season, the Vikings weren't able to get past Churchill in their sectional final of the 4A/3A West region, a result that left Whitman feeling as if the group didn't quite meet its own expectations.

Whitman will look to change that this season and capture its first regional title since 2015. If that happens, the Vikings would be just one win away from going on the deepest playoff run in their program's history.

"The overall goal is to see their hard work pay off by continuing to work together as a cohesive unit, and have another opportunity to represent Montgomery County in the state tournament," Bitonti said.
April 28th, 2017By: Wick Eisenberg

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