Kayla Miles has helped lead a renaissance in girls lacrosse at Immaculate Heart Central.
Last year as a junior, the talented midfielder helped guide the Cavaliers to their first Frontier League title in the sport, and then onto the sectional semifinal round.
Now in her final scholastic season, Miles is ready to again display the dedication and determination on the field shes worked toward since she first picked up a lacrosse stick competitively in sixth grade.
She has a great passion and a great drive for the game, said Jason Burto, who is in his first year as IHC head coach. She has great knowledge of the game and she can see the field and always helps us on the offensive and defensive ends of the field.
Im very excited about this year, said Miles, who was selected as a national All-American last June after her junior season.
Miles, who will attend the University of North Carolina in the fall, blends offensive skills with a sense of responsibility on defense as well.
Well really look for her on the offensive end to start plays, Burto said. But also to help defensively by working with our defensive-middies.
Last season, not many gave IHC much of a chance in the Frontier League, but the Cavaliers eventually ascended to a No. 7 ranking in the state.
This provided Miles and her teammates with extra motivation, and IHC responded with perhaps its best season in girls lacrosse by forging a 15-3 mark, including a 9-1 record in the Frontier League to earn the programs first championship banner.
It was really special because none of us thought that we would ever get that far, said Miles, who scored 49 goals and assisted on 15 others last season. We were never a team that won something like that, so winning the league was huge for us.
Teams might not be looking past the Cavaliers this season, but Miles and her teammates still have something to prove, although they wont be playing the role of the underdog this time.
We didnt like to think that, but other teams thought that, Miles said. I like how we proved people wrong.
IHC lost some key contributors to graduation last year, including regional All-American goalie Victoria Fusco, the Times All-North MVP, as well as Hannah Connolly and Christine Wright at attack.
Yet the Cavaliers return experience across the field, with senior Maddy Brand leading on defense and junior Rachel OBrien pacing the attack.
Im feeling confident right now, Miles said. Its kind of hard, we lost eight seniors last year and especially an All-American goalie, so thats tough for all of us. But overall, Im really proud of our team, were 3-0 with our trip to North Carolina.
Miles scored three goals and assisted on another as IHC edged LaFayette, 17-16 in a sectional game to reach a Section 3 semifinal in Class C.
I was really excited about that, Miles said. Because we always lost and didnt make it past the first round ever, so getting to the semifinals was a really big deal.
The Cavaliers were defeated by Skaneateles, 12-6, in the next round, but gained valuable experience from their playoff run.
Other people are thinking that were not going to be as good, especially with all the seniors that we lost, Miles said. But I think well do well. The trip during spring break went really well because we had some good team bonding which will help us. And we had some good games down there, especially against Hoggard, theyre one of the top-ranked in North Carolina.
Kayla is one of three sisters on this years team, including sophomore defender Sarah Miles and freshman attack Olivia Miles.
Shes definitely going to be one of our leaders, Burto said of Kayla, and someone well look to when were in a pinch. Shes going to pretty much have the same role she had for us last year, but we need her to step up and take over for some of the seniors that graduated last year.
This past winter, the elder Miles underwent a weight training and conditioning program with her teammates, as well as playing lacrosse nearly year long with the Different Road Patriots travel team.
My dad has motivated me a lot, Miles said. Hes helped me and I wouldnt be going to UNC if it wasnt for him. My family has helped me a lot in making my decisions.
Now the oldest Miles sister still has much work to do on the lacrosse field before she trades her blue IHC uniform for Carolina blue this fall.
Its such a great opportunity, Miles said of UNC. Theyre ranked second in the nation right now and I just went to one of their games in Maryland, which is ranked first. So just watching how fast they play gets me even more excited to go down there. But I know I still have work to do here with this team.
Here is a look at the Frontier League:
Outlook: Last year, the Frontier League championship went right down to the wire as IHC edged out South Jefferson by one game in the standings. After the Cavaliers clinched at least a share for the title the day before, IHC received help from crosstown rival Watertown, which edged the Spartans, 6-5, to win their first league banner outright. The league itself has really grown over the last three years into a real battle, South Jefferson coach Jen Williams said. I think its going to be a fun year in this league. While IHC lost eight seniors from last years team, South Jefferson, which finished just one game behind the Cavaliers, return all but two starters. The Spartans field a 29-player roster, which includes plenty of youth with 11 sophomores and 10 freshmen. South Jefferson is led by senior defender and fifth-year varsity player Megan Hanson, junior goalie Courtney Zeigler and sophomores Morgan Alexander (55 goals-11 assists-66 points) at attack and Clarissa Perry (44-21-65) in the midfield. Watertown, which won its first league title two seasons ago, returns a core of key players, led by Brianne Arthur (63-22-85) at attack, Morgan Cadwell (49-15-64) in the midfield, Hannah Keggins on defense and Christina Matthewson in goal. Our team is a mixture of experience and youth, Watertown coach Tim Burr said. We have some nice offensive balance and an athletic defensive group. Carthage lost four seniors to graduation and has everyone else returning, said coach Sue Gallagher. The Comets, who have a promising newcomer in junior goalie Rebecca Abbott, will look to improve on last years five-win season, and whose outlook is to be more competitive in the league and to go further in sectional competition. General Brown went 5-11 last season, but five of those losses were by one goal, to teams such as IHC, South Jefferson and Watertown. The Lions return nine starters, including goalie Maggie Ambrose and defender Morgan Todd. Indian River is looking to improve on a 6-10 campaign last season, which didnt include a win in the league, and rely on returners Paige Fayette and Katie Brierton. Fayette (36-13-39), a senior, and Brierton (51-24-75), a junior, combined to record 124 points last year, including 87 goals.
Coach: Sue Gallagher
2012 Record: (5-12 overall, 4-6 league)
Roster: Leighann Booth (Sr., M/D), Jessica Oliver (Sr., D), Rebecca Abbott (Jr., G), Mari Ames (Jr., A), Taylour Campbell (Jr., D), Doria Darroch (Jr., A), Mackenzie Kidder (Jr., A/M), Hannah Millich (Jr., M), Gabriella Park (Jr., A), Claire Sauter (Jr., M/D), Carly Sullivan (Jr., A/M), Mia Darroch (So., A/M), Alyssa Kamide (So., D), Gabrielle OBrien (So., D), Meaghan Paige (So., A), Jenna Scott (So., G), Krista Temple (So., A).
General Brown Lions
Coach: Katie Clough
2012 Record: (5-12, 2-8)
Players to watch: Maggie Ambrose, Nancy Bauter, Emily Amell, Bryanna Fazio, Cayla OConnor, Hannah Peebles, Morgan Todd.
Roster: Maggie Ambrose (Sr., G), Lyndsie Danks (Sr., D), Morgan OHearn (Sr., D/M), Chelsea Purvis (Sr., A), Taylor Rosette (Sr., A), Morgan Todd (Sr., D), Nancy Bauter (Jr., D/M), Jill Primicias (Jr., A/M), Emily Amell (So., M), Maddie Comins (So., A), Bryanna Fazio (So., A), Cayla OConnor (So., M), Katelyn Longamore (So., G), Emily Malone (So., D), Hannah Peebles (So., M), Kennady Eager (Fr., D/M), Miah Rowland (Fr., A/M).
Coach: Jason Burto
2012 Record: (15-3, 9-1)
Players to watch: Maddy Brand, Kayla Miles, Olivia Miles, Rachel OBrien.
Roster: Samantha Alteri (Sr., D), Maddy Brand (Sr., D), Patricia Breen (Sr., M), Maria Dahl (Sr., A), Shelbi McIlroy (Sr., A), Kayla Miles (Sr., M), Jennifer Norris (Sr., A), Holly Sacco (Sr., G), Rebecka Lazore (Jr., M), Rachel OBrien (Jr., A), Sara Pignone (Jr., A/M), Danielle Pound (Jr., M/D), Anna Puccia (Jr., D), Jaid Baytos (So., M), Erin Dingman (So., M), Sarah Miles (So., D), Alyssa Roderick (So., A), Skylar Short (So., D), Vera Freda (Fr., M), Allison McElheran (Fr., G), Olivia Miles (Fr., A/M), Anna ONeil (8th, D).
Indian River Warriors
Coach: Fred Lavancha
2012 Record: (6-10, 0-10)
Players to watch: Katie Brierton, Paige Fayette, Abby Lynch, Hannah Miterko, Morgan Nabywaniec.
Roster: Paige Fayette (Sr., A), Meghan Guler (Sr., A), Abby Lynch (Sr., D), Hannah Miterko (Sr., D), Morgan Nabywaniec (Sr., M), Katie Brierton (Jr., A), Payge Heingarten (Jr., G), Alex Berge (So., A), Sidney Black (So., D), Kadeda Cappuccetti (So., A), Cassandra Kiechle (So., D), Sarah Mattingly (So., M), Courtney Mills (So., D), Kelsi Nabywaniec (So., M), Bailey Crow (Fr., M), Ally Lynch (Fr., D).
South Jefferson Spartans
Coach: Jen Williams
2012 Record: (13-5, 8-2)
Players to watch: Morgan Alexander, Megan Hanson, Clarissa Perry, Courtney Zeigler.
Roster: Madesyn Alexander (Jr., M), Mallory Davis (Sr., A), Mackenna Goodnough (Sr., A), Megan Hanson (Sr., D), Morgan McDermott (Sr., D), Megan Scully (Sr., A), Lexi Smith (Jr., D), Courtney Zeigler (Jr., G), Morgan Alexander (So., A), Courtney Cavellier (So., D), Marisa Clark (So., D), Stephanie Green (So., A), Kiersten Guthro (So., M), Kyra Kempney (So., D), Cierra Lucas (So., D), Kia Morgia-Horning (So., M), Maddie Knapp (So., A), Keagan Nowlin (So., G), Clarissa Perry (So., M), Sydney Robert (So., M), Libby Conners (Fr., D), Dana Cowles (Fr., M), Molly Denny (Fr., M), Tatyana Fish (Fr., D), Sidney Hall (Fr., M), Haley Maguire (Fr., M), Lara Podvin (Fr., A); Hailey Pooler (Fr., A), Quincey Zimmerman (Fr., M).
Coach: Tim Burr
2012 Record: (11-6, 7-3)
Players to watch: Brianne Arthur, Morgan Cadwell, Hannah Keggins, Christina Matthewson.
Roster: Brianne Arthur (Sr., A), Dieu Biu (Sr., D), Morgan Cadwell (Sr., M), Morgan Exford (Sr., A), Hannah Keggins (Sr., D), Christina Matthewson (Sr., G), Katie Aldrich (Jr., D), Ashley Flick (Jr., A), Miranda Gilbert (Jr., M), Meghan Hefferon (Jr., D), Kat Herrienger (Jr., A), Gabby Rose-Greene (Jr., D), Isabelle Marsala (Jr., D), Courtney Netto (Jr., M), Alyssa Barrett (So., A), Nellie Dephtereos (So., D), Morgan Girardi (So., M), Livia Harrienger (So., M), Leah Rojas (So., D), Logan Bush (Fr., D), Kira Kolb (Fr., D), Jill Girardi (8th, M).