Starting a program from the ground level is never easy, but Becky Mottlow is excited about doing just that with the Hilliard Bradley girls lacrosse team.

Starting a program from the ground level is never easy, but Becky Mottlow is excited about doing just that with the Hilliard Bradley girls lacrosse team.

Mottlow, who coached for the past three seasons at Hilliard Davidson, takes over a first-year Jaguars program with no seniors and limited varsity experience. But she believes the players have the initiative needed to be successful.

"As a coaching staff, myself, Kristen Devine and Mike Mignery, have many new players to teach all facets of the game to in a very short period of time," said Mottlow, whose team opened last Tuesday at home against Pickerington North. "The great thing is that the coaching staff is all on the same page. We have similar philosophies and are already learning so much from each other. We all coached at different programs in the past years and have really jelled as a staff this year."

The Jaguars have six players who played varsity minutes at Darby last year. They include juniors Lauren Biller and D.J. Meister as well as sophomores Rachel Dicken, Sara Holloway, Marianne Ickes and Makayla Vidosh.

"We are limited because we are not returning 12 varsity players," Mottlow said. "We may have a limited depth of experience, but I'm pleased with how quickly the entire team is improving."

The team only has had one scrimmage, which was March 23 against Big Walnut, so Mottlow has yet to fully evaluate her young team. But she said the hard work in preseason is paying off.

"We have many talented girls of which I am extremely proud," she said. "I think some of the girls have actually surprised themselves with their growth in ability. They are really seeing results."

The Jaguars will play Wednesday at Olentangy Liberty and April 9 at home against DeSales.

"We still need to work more on our fundamentals and we also have plenty of fielding strategy to cover," Mottlow said. "But one thing we did do well in the scrimmage was play as a team. I'm hoping that can be a strength of this team."

•Davidson also has a first-year coach in a roundabout way.

Mark Buroff returns to the program after a three-year absence. He had a 14-13-1 record as coach in 2005-06 after being a longtime assistant with the program.

"I had been involved with a summer club team during (the three years off), but I found that I missed coaching the sport at Davidson," said Buroff, whose team is coming off back-to-back 1-13 seasons. "Plus, the program has gone through some tough times recently and I love the challenge of rebuilding it."

Kristin Eusebio (defense/midfield), Erin Hamilton (MF), Stephanie Katona (D), Carly LaRosa (attack), and Kali Snyder (A) lead a five-member senior class.

"Clearly, the returning seniors will provide leadership and be major contributors," said Buroff, whose team opens today at Olentangy. "Kali Snyder and Carly LaRosa will be counted upon heavily to run the attack, Erin Hamilton will be a major factor in the midfield, and Stephanie Katona will be a presence on defense. Beyond that, we have a strong junior class that will fill some significant roles."

Juniors include Becca Carter (A), Lisa Castiglione (D), Seanae Corvi (A), Dani Elefritz (MF), Aubrey Gilliland (D), Courtney Hilfiger (D), Elizabeth Lease (Goalie), Jenny Pachuta (MF), Tory Peitz (MF), Kelsey Sicker (MF), Alyssa Villacres (D) and Ellie White (A). Maire Austin, a goalie, is the lone freshman on varsity.

"I believe that our midfield and goalkeeping could stand out this year," said Buroff, whose team plays Tuesday at home against Watterson and April 8 at Olentangy Orange. "We have some very athletic midfielders in Kelsy Sicker, Erin Hamilton, Dani Elefritz and Jenny Pachuta, and our goalkeeping will be in very good hands with Elizabeth Lease and Maire Austin."

The Wildcats finished 0-7 in the OCC-Buckeye last year to finish last behind champion Upper Arlington at 7-0.

•Darby will have a first-year coach in Johnny Ulry, who was the girls soccer coach at Reynoldsburg last fall.

Ulry, a 2004 graduate of Westerville North, was a junior varsity lacrosse coach at North two years ago and an assistant at New Albany last season.

The Panthers finished 6-11 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Buckeye for sixth place behind champion UA at 7-0.

"Coming into the program this year, we had to re-teach proper mechanics," Ulry said. "In game situations, sometimes they will revert back into old habits, but we want to make sure that they don't force things in tight situations.

"We have to maintain our poise in order to be successful."

Returning letterwinners for the Panthers include seniors Sara Bosley (MF), Corinne Harmon (G), Shannon Hernan (MF), Elizabeth Hitch (D), Courtney Hock (MF), Alyssa Johnson (A), Brooke Loughridge (MF), Becca Ross (A) and Lauren Tyndall (MF) as well as junior Tori Blatt (A) and Korinne Cully MF).

The roster also includes juniors Denise Allen (D) and Riley Bennington (A) as well as sophomores Kata Dorr (D), Jade Kearly (D), Jessica Rice (A) and Anna Schaiffer (D). Realynn Mercer is a freshman attacker.

"The strength of the team is the fact that the girls want to be successful," Ulry said. "They hadn't been as successful in the pats as they would have liked to been and they have a lot of pride and want to be in that upper tier of teams in the area.

"Also our speed of play and being smart and taking care of the ball has been a strength in preseason. Not having turnovers has been one of our bigger strengths."

At a glance