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Junior Maggie Mandel is a key member of the defensive corps for the Guilford girls’ lacrosse team, which has won its first six games of the 2019 season. (Photo courtesy of Maggie Mandel )
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About five years ago, Maggie Mandel decided to travel a different course in her athletic career by taking up lacrosse. Maggie’s path led her to the girls’ lacrosse squad at Guilford High School, where the junior is helping the Indians lock things down on the defensive end of the field.
Maggie started off with soccer and played the sport for several years. After entering Baldwin Middle School, Maggie met physical education teacher and Guilford’s current Head Coach Wendy Epke, who encouraged Maggie to try her hand at lacrosse. Maggie quickly took a liking to lacrosse, and now she’s competing for Epke as a member of the Indians, who have stormed out to a 6-0 start this spring.
“Changing from soccer to lacrosse was tough at first. Physically, I’ve become aware of how to angle myself on the field,” Maggie says. “I’ve had a lot of support from my team. We have good team chemistry, which helps with communication and asking each other questions in order to get better. The coaches on the team have also been awesome and helped with that chemistry. They’ve all pushed me to do better.”
Maggie feels that the synergy among the Indians is a key component in their success on defense. Maggie says that type of dynamic keeps the lines of communication open on the field.
“As a defender, communication can be tough at times, because you have to know what everyone on the field is doing,” says Maggie. “Our defensive line this year is a real close-knit unit, which makes that communication a little easier.”
Maggie believes that Guilford’s strong start is the product of a roster full of talented players who have great work ethics. Maggie wants to continue contributing to more big-time victories for the Indians as they make their charge toward the postseason.
“The skill level of each of us on the team has helped us as a group,” Maggie says. “We’ve been working hard off the field to help us in games. I definitely think us being individually strong has helped us as a team.”
Having known Maggie since the beginning of her lacrosse career, Coach Epke feels pleased to see the junior taking a studious approach to the game, while directing traffic in the defensive lanes.
“Maggie is a strong athlete that pushes herself to play hard at every practice and game. She’s a leader for our team on defense,” Epke says. “Maggie is a great student of the game. She’s always asking questions and trying new techniques to become a better player. I’ve seen Maggie grow as an athlete and a player since she was in middle school and trying lacrosse for the first time. It’s great to see her now competing as a starter on the Guilford varsity team and making such a huge impact for our program.”
While she’s happy with the way things are going so far, Maggie notes that Guilford isn’t taking any of its adversaries lightly this season. As the Indians hit the latter half of their campaign, Maggie wants them to continue taking care of their business on a daily basis.
“Some of our major goals are to keep our heads up and never underestimate our opponents,” says Maggie. “We take things day-by-day and one game at a time, so we can challenge ourselves based on our opponents.”
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