WOODSIDE — They certainly know what it’s like to win.
But the athletes on Polytech High’s top girls’ sports teams also know the agony of defeat.
The Panthers made the DIAA state tournament in volleyball and the state finals in field hockey this school year only to fall short.
Then there’s the Polytech girls’ lacrosse team, which has lost by a total of just five goals in the opening round of the last two state tourneys.
It makes for a Panther lacrosse squad that both knows how to get things done but is also hungry to accomplish more this spring.
“A lot of us play field hockey and volleyball,” said junior Jamie Trabaudo, who is also a field hockey standout. “So a lot of us know what it feels like to go that far. We don’t like experiencing losing. We don’t take that very well.
“And losing in the first round (of the state tournament) is one of the most disappointing feelings.”
Getting past that opening round of the tourney then is clearly the biggest goal for Polytech, which is a combined 24-6 over the last two seasons. The back-to-back state tournament appearances are the first two in the program’s history.
The Panthers seem to have picked up right where they left off. They’re 4-0 going into today’s 5 p.m. home game against Padua.
“We’ve had a lot of heartbreak state tournament-wise in all the different sports,” said senior defender Colleen O’Brien, who also played volleyball. “So we kind of know how that feels. We definitely don’t want to feel that way again.”
“I think it’s motivation for all of us,” said junior midfielder Allie McKay, another field hockey player. “Now we really want it. We’ve been there and we’ve felt what it’s like to lose. Now we want to have that win.”
It’s been smooth sailing so far for Polytech, which has outscored its first four opponents by a 70-21 margin. But the Panthers’ schedule is going to keep getting more difficult.
After not playing a game in the last 13 days, Polytech faces seven contests in the next 17 days. The Panthers take on Archmere and Wilmington Friends in that stretch before hosting six-time defending state champion Cape Henlopen on April 28.
McKay, in particular, has gotten off to a fast start. The former defensive player already has 25 goals this season.
Trabaudo, who’s headed for the University of North Carolina in two years, is second on the team with 18.
Since moving to midfield last season, McKay has become a lot more involved in the offense.
“She definitely did a nice job last year but this year she came out with some big games,” said coach Lynn Richardson. “She’s a talented athlete. It’s nice that we have a little more balance than we’ve had in the past.”
“I just worked on it a lot and played in the summer,” said McKay. “(At midfield) people kind of depend on you to be everywhere. It was a change from stopping at the restraining line and now I’m going the full field. Obviously, conditioning is a little bit different.”
Even though the DIAA state tourney field has expanded from eight to 10 teams this year, Richardson doesn’t want her players taking anything for granted.
She hopes the Panthers have only started to show what they’re capable of. Certainly they know they haven’t really accomplished anything yet.
“We joke around but we know how to work hard,” said O’Brien. “When people want to win like we want to win, you go for it.”
“I think we’re starting to connect with each other,” said Trabaudo. “A lot of us have been playing with each other for a long time. This is our third year all playing together.
“Definitely this year we want to make it as far as we can. Definitely we want to win in the first round because that’s never been done before. We’ve been so close the last two years.”