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WEST WINDSOR: WW-P pair aid Oberlin lacrosse resurgence

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Sloane Garelick and Alexa L’Insalata have come full circle on and off the lacrosse field., As high school players, the two spent four years playing against each other – Garelick at West Windsor-Plainsboro High South and L’Insalata at WW-P North. But the two are now entering their fourth season together playing for the Oberlin College women’s lacrosse team, where they are both serving as captains this season., “Sloane and I, when we went to North and South, had a little rivalry because she played more attack and I was a goalie,” L’Insalata said. “So we were against each other. We didn’t know each other very well then, just through sports. Now, four years later, we’re living in same house and we’re captains of the team. We had to come eight hours away to become friends. We’ve come full circle. It’s nice to have a little bit of home with each other here at Oberlin.”, The two former WW-P players have been part of a lacrosse renaissance at Oberlin. In the season prior to their arrival, the Yeowomen went 4-11. Garelick and L’Insalata joined the program along with a new head coach – Lynda McCandlish – in 2014 and the progress has been steady each year., Oberlin went 8-5 in 2014, followed by an 11-6 season in 2015 that included a trip to the North Coast Athletic Conference championship game. Last year, the team went 10-7., “Overall, I have loved the experience,” said Garelick, a starter on defense since her freshman season. “Although we never experienced what the team was like before our current coach was here, I feel like the team has grown so much in terms of skill level on field and as a team working together., “Our first year was the first time in a long time we had a winning record. And then the following year we made it to the championship game of our conference tournament and last year could have done the same if not for six major injures on the team. Overall, each year we have improved consistently. And at this point we’re looking even better than we have in past seasons.”, Oberlin is off to a 3-0 start this season heading into its spring break trip that will include games against Greensboro and Guilford in North Carolina. Garelick leads the defense with 10 ground balls for a unit that has allowed just 2.7 goals a game this season. L’Insalata, who has been an All-NCAC first team selection the last two years, has shared time in goal with Siena Marcelle this season., “I think part of coming into this program was we both came in wanting to be on the forefront of building a program,” said L’Insalata, the NCAC Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore. “It could have turned for good or bad. Our class came in and wanted to see how far we could take the program. There have been great strides in the athletic department. We had a brand new stadium open our sophomore year. This team has improved all four years.”, That improvement seemed to start the first time the team got together with McCandlish, who had a successful playing career of her own at Northwestern University., “I vividly remember our freshman year orientation, none of us had met the new head coach”, L’Insalata said. “A lot of us had not even met each other. The first time in the room together our coach came in – and she is so intelligent on the lacrosse field but she will even say in new situations she is shy and a bit awkward. When she came in she had a different vibe than the previous coach, who was more outgoing and more of a salesperson. So everyone saw this was so different than what we were originally on board for. We were excited to see where it would go. I think that is why our class got so close right off the bat. We were younger, but skilled, so played a lot as freshmen.”, Garelick and L’Inslata, along with Sarah Phister, are captains for this year’s Yeowomen squad. Their class will graduate as one of the best in program history, having helped the program reach a new level of success., “We started out with 10 freshmen and now we have seven seniors,” Garelick said. “That is a pretty big class. We were new and our coach was new. It helped build that relationship and bond trying to figure out things together. It made it so we had a big role on the team. From a personal perspective, I was unsure of playing time at first. I had played midfield all through high school and now I am a low defender, which has been a nice change. In high school I would tend to go toward the attacking side. Now I’m an all-out defender, which has been a nice change that I really love.”, L’Insalata walked on the field and was an immediate starter as a freshman. She played 46 games in goal her first three years with a save percentage over .500 and a goals against average under nine goals per game., “When I was recruited I was told the starting position was mine,” L’Insalata said. “I wasn’t sure with a new coach if it would be different. I also knew from what the previous coach had told us that our class would take the reigns. I know a lot of us felt a lot of responsibility was on us even as freshmen to create a competitive atmosphere that wasn’t always there before.”, Both Garelick and L’Insalata are enjoying their roles as captains. They’re hoping to help Oberlin to its best season since their arrival and leave the program continuing its upward trend., “The dynamic of our team is such that even thought we are captains and have seven seniors, everyone can be a leader,” Garelick said. “That is part of the reason we have been so successful the last few years. We can depend on everyone., “We only lost three starters and we have four freshmen who all look great. Two of them have started and contributed a lot to the team already. We’re building off the group we had last year and the people who were injured are back and healthy.”, And that has Oberlin playing with a lot of confidence., “We want to win the NCAC championship,” L’Insalata said. “We came close our sophomore year and had injuries last year that set us back to the point of missing six starters. So we were close but just missed the grasp. Everyone is pretty hungry for the championship. We want to go to the NCAA tournament and be first lacrosse team since the 1990s to win a championship.”, And if the Yeowomen do that, a couple of players from WW-P will have played a major role in making it happen., “Alexa is in goal and I am back there on defense,” Garelick said. “It’s nice knowing on and off the field she is always there for me.”

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