Holy Trinity girls lacrosse coach Dave Kotowski had no issue handing the leading role in the Titans’ historic season to a freshman.
“We’re not winning a state championship without Maggie Long,” Kotowski said defiantly.
Long developed her skills as the season progressed and finished with a CHSAA-high 94 points in helping to lead the Titans to the CHSAA Class A state title. Her transition from basketball — she’s an up-and-coming point guard — wasn’t seamless, but it certainly wasn’t rocky, either.
“She had a very good stick,” Kotowski said. “You could tell right away that she had a good stick. A lot of it was just tweaking certain things for her. Teaching her how to self-draw, how to play within an offense.”
Long's growth was exponential, as she eventually became the Titans' unquestioned leader offensively, defensively and on the draw. In the state championshiop game against Kennedy Catholic (Somers, N.Y.), she scored one goal and added a team-high three assists. Molly Espey scored five goals and Aleena Jacob made 11 saves in the 8-4 win that brought home the first state title in program history.
Kotowski may already be anticipating next season with only five seniors (two starters) graduating. Long and team captain Noelle Messick return, and that’s just scratching the surface.
“The core is unbelievable,” Kotowski said. “You have Aleena Jacob, who’s a sophomore. You have Molly Espey, who was MVP of the championship game. She’s only a sophomore. We had two other sophomores starting on defense. Another sophomore starting on attack.”
The Titans finished 14-4 despite rarely practicing on weekends. Kotowski said he mostly held practices Monday through Friday because so many of his players worked on weekends. The up-tempo practices ran from 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. and were both efficient and light-hearted.
It was the girls’ blue-collar mentality that Kotowski credited as a key to their success, right alongside the youth movement led by Long.
“From day one, I told Maggie I would not treat her like a ninth-grader,” Kotowski said. “I was going to treat her like a top player on the team.”
That's exactly what she was. A top player on a top team.
TITANS’ road to the championship
Archbishop Molloy, 14-3
St. Dominic, 14-9
Kennedy Catholic, 8-4