During her first season heading the program last spring, Wellington School girls lacrosse coach Katie Hill began seeing the progression she was hoping for by season's end.
The Jaguars had some of their best moments in late April when they split six games and lost another by two goals.
With a system in place and a portion of the team's young nucleus having returned, Hill is hoping things go smoother after the Jaguars finished 4-11 overall and 0-7 in the Central Independent League last season.
Wellington, which has eight freshmen among its 15 players, opens Tuesday, April 2, at home against Watterson in league action.
"It feels more natural to me this year," Hill said. "Last year, it was a feeling like everything had to be perfect, but we didn't know how to do it perfectly, and this year things are falling into place a little easier."
Junior attacker Mia Croft and junior midfielder Anna Chester, who had 26 and 24 goals, respectively, last season, are back to lead the offense.
Midfielder Mackenzie Beam and goalkeeper Ella Sweitzer are the only seniors.
The other juniors are returnees Sarah Anderson (midfielder) and Lindsay Harris (defender), and midfielder Lauren Sabol returns as the only sophomore.
Croft's sister, attacker Macy Croft, leads what Hill believes is a talented freshman class.
Freshman Jameela Askira should be one of the team's top defenders.
The other freshmen are Kate Harvey-Thurston (goalie), Hannah Kennedy (attacker), Lauren Okoye (defender), Maddie Paull (attacker), Jessie Seitz (attacker) and Rhea Singh (defender).
"We have a very young team this year," Hill said. "We have 15 people, so that hurts us against the big teams that have 30 girls. Mackenzie Beam is ... definitely someone who last year was always very consistent and in our first scrimmage just really took control on the field. She's not the most vocal in practice, but her skill level and lacrosse IQ are so much higher that (her teammates are) going to turn to her.
"Mia Croft plays low attack, and her sister, Macy, is a freshman who I think is going to be really great for us. As a freshman, she has so much potential. The game is a lot different from middle school to the varsity level, but once she gets more experience, she's going to be a standout player."
Boys lacrosse team looks to take step up
With just two seniors last season, the boys lacrosse team went 2-10, defeating Johnstown 5-4 in overtime and Newark 13-3 in early May.
Third-year coach Eric Fraser is hoping for a more even season this spring for the Jaguars, who open Tuesday, April 2, at home against Bexley.
"It's one of those things where you change the culture of the program, and now some of those players are older," Fraser said. "The expectations are set at the beginning of the year and the culture has been a lot more consistent."
Katz Kadlic, a three-sport athlete who has been a starter since his freshman season and was the team's leading scorer last season, according to Fraser, is a midfielder who should lead a 10-member senior class.
The other seniors are midfielders Evan Albers, David Lynn, Harrison Morosky and Evan Scott, attackers Ben Edwards, Trevor Seitz and Mason Tully and defenders Ben Sierzputowski and Luke Wilson.
Junior goalie Kyle Tocci and junior attacker Todd Bainbridge also are key returnees.
Others in the program include junior midfielder Zeke Lloyd, sophomore attacker Zubin Reyazi, sophomore defender Max Windl, freshman attacker Beck Liles and freshmen defenders Gavin Ray and Jackson Stoner.
"A lot of the players are seniors, so the (experience) is a lot better than it was in the past," Fraser said. "There are a lot of seniors that haven't really played a whole lot. They're in their second or third years playing, and my experience is that it usually takes until the third year of playing before it starts to click. It's just a matter of keeping guys healthy, but this is the (team) I'm most excited about."
Below are the coming schedules for the Wellington baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball and boys tennis teams:
*March 29 -- At Harvest Prep
*April 1 -- At Grove City Christian
*April 2 -- At Millersport
April 3 -- At Worthington Christian
April 2 -- Home vs. Bexley
*April 2 -- Home vs. Watterson
*March 28 -- At Harvest Prep
March 30 -- At Africentric
*April 1 -- Home vs. Grove City Christian
April 2 -- At Walnut Ridge
*April 3 -- At Millersport
April 1 -- Home vs. Watterson
April 3 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange