Sentinels climb D-II ranks

Sentinels climb D-II ranks

Smithfield senior Katie Martin, left, races down the field with the ball as she is pursued by a South Kingstown player during the first half of last Thursday night’s Division II contest. The Sentinels posted a 10-9 victory that was their eighth win of the season. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Girls’ lacrosse team seeks program’s first 10-win season Thursday

SMITHFIELD – Being in its fourth year in Division II, the Smithfield High girls’ lacrosse team has established itself as one of the league’s top teams, and last Thursday night at the Boyle Athletic Complex, the Sentinels made a statement by defeating South Kingstown for the first time in its history, 10-9.

“We haven’t beaten South Kingstown since we’ve been in D-II,” Smithfield head coach Amber Polak said before the game. “We’ve really stepped up our defense and offense; it’s just grown stronger and stronger since day one. We’ve always had a very strong midfield and strong attack, but our defense has just come miles from where we started, which is a key factor in lacrosse.”

That victory, as well as a 13-9 win on the road over Chariho on Monday night, allowed the Sentinels to improve their record to 9-3. Only three teams sit above them in the standings: the Prout School, which is 9-0, and Mount Hope and the defending champion Lincoln School, which are both 9-1.

Polak, who is in her fourth season as the Sentinels’ head coach, has been with the program since it started back eight years ago. She was a senior on the team that made its RIIL debut in 2013 and posted a 7-5 record in Division III. She joined the coaching staff after she graduated and has seen the team continually grow, moving to D-II in 2015 and reaching the playoffs in each of its five seasons.

Last spring, the Sentinels went 7-6 for their fourth winning season in five years, but after that, they graduated four seniors, including their three-year starting goalkeeper. This year, Polak has 18 returning players, as well as two sophomore goalies in Allie Lawton and Ysa Brown.

Only two seniors are on the team, but they are two of the top three-sport athletes in the school, Taylor Cobain, who will continue her lacrosse career at Division II St. Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H., and Katie Martin, who will resume her field hockey career at Division III Roanoke College in Salem, Va.

“Both have been four-year starters and probably the most versatile players I have on the team as well,” Polak said.

Cobain, who is the school’s all-time leading scorer in girls’ lacrosse and basketball, is again leading the team in goals. Before the S.K. game, she had 56 goals and 25 assists, and one of the goals put her in an exclusive scoring club that very few players in this state have reached.

“Against Pilgrim (on May 2), she scored 10 goals and reached her 200th career goal,” Polak said. “As a midfielder, that’s fantastic, because she is running the whole field the whole game, and usually you see that from someone who plays only offense.”

Polak and her team are hoping that Cobain can hit the 250-goal mark. She netted 12 goals in the three games after the Pilgrim contest, and she scored four times in the first half and added two goals with less than two minutes to play in the victory over the Rebels.

Two more offensive standouts, junior Riley Hart and sophomore Samantha Nicynski, have each scored over 20 goals, and junior Amanda Jamieson and sophomore Sydney Butera have also given the offense a lift.

Along with the seasoned veterans, Polak said that she had two freshmen starting, Kylie Faber and Kat Laboissonniere. She said that Laboissonniere has started almost all their varsity games, despite being a first-time lacrosse player.

“Overall, I think this is the most versatile team that I’ve seen (in the program’s history),” added Polak, “which is, again, a big thing when you can have an attacker on defense or on midfield or a midfielder stay back.”

In Monday’s victory over Chariho, Cobain scored seven times and set up two other goals and Hart added four goals and three assists. Junior Fiona Ricci and Nicynski produced the other goals, and Lawton and Brown each stopped seven shots.

The Sentinels have already claimed a spot in the playoffs, but Polak is hoping they can finish the regular season with the first 10-win season in the team’s history. They will wrap up their schedule on Thursday with a 5:30 p.m. game against Classical at the Purple’s Morro Athletic Complex.

Smithfield senior Taylor Cobain, shown getting ready to take a shot on goal, has scored over 60 goals this season and reached the 200-goal mark in her career earlier in this month.