Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Maroons Serious about Enjoying Success

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Maroons Serious about Enjoying Success

Article excerpt

RIDGEWOOD - As the Ridgewood girls lacrosse team warmed up for a recent preseason practice, initially stretching before going into a line drill where they passed the ball back and forth while jogging from one line to the next, the mood was light, almost giddy.

Everyone was smiling. Conversations flowed endlessly. Bursts of laughter erupted spontaneously. It seemed the entire team was part of some inside joke, all while playing the sport no team in the state has been better at the last two years than the Maroons.

"We're always joking around," Ridgewood senior captain Kiley Donovan said. "That's what brings us together and makes us a little family."

Yet as much as the players joke, they also know when it's time to work; putting on a straight face running sprints and prompting coach Karla Mixon to say, "They like having fun, but they know they have to be serious, too."

A year after having the most successful season in program history, where the Maroons captured their second straight Tournament of Champions title, there is pressure of being the top team in New Jersey and one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.

That, however, clearly hasn't prevented this group from enjoying the moment.

Every girls lacrosse team in New Jersey wants to supplant them as No. 1. But through it all, Ridgewood, a team with new faces filling key roles, has found a good balance of having fun and working hard.

The Maroons hope that mix leads to another season like the one they had last year when they went 23-1 and extended their winning streak over New Jersey competition to 41 straight.

"Even though we have a lot of new players, I know everyone is up for the challenge," senior captain Kelci Smesko said.

"We've been stressing as senior captains that you have to have great pride when you come on the field and play for Ridgewood because we have such a tradition of winning."

Smesko, a returning All-American who is committed to Duke, has been a big part of that tradition since her freshman year, starting on both TOC-winning teams and setting the school record for career goals at 212. …

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