The Hempfield girls lacrosse team came up one game short of qualifying for the PIAA Class 3A tournament in 2019.
A year later, the Black Knights were slated to return goalkeepers Cassidy Roark (46 saves, D-III Salisbury recruit) and Kyah Peifer (89 saves, L-L honorable mention last season, D-III Wilson College recruit) along with D-I Campbell University recruit Lizzie Yurchak (98 goals, 26 assists, L-L first-team all-star last season), D-I Cincinnati recruit and last year’s L-L Most Valuable attacker Lindsey Durkota (83 goals, 23 assists) and L-L honorable mention Kelsea Dague (51 goals, five assists), among others.
Add to the mix a new coach in Claudia Ovchinnikoff, the Temple Hall of Famer who took Lampeter-Strasburg to unprecedented heights the previous two seasons and came to Landisville in part because she lives in the Hempfield School District.
“Coach O really wanted to go farther than we did last year,” Durkota said in a recent interview. “We were just short of making states last year. That was one of our goals was to get there and go as far as possible.”
Under normal circumstances, the state lacrosse tournaments would have begun this week if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. Had Hempfield still been playing at this point, it would have been just the fourth Black Knights’ girls lacrosse team to reach the state tourney since the first PIAA tournament in 2009.
With that, LNP|LancasterOnline caught up with Durkota to get her thoughts on a 2020 season that could have been. Here’s the rest of that Q&A…
How have you been staying in shape amidst the lockdown? “It’s been hard. That structure that I usually have of waking up and going to school or practice, I didn’t realize how much I really need that. It helps me with staying in shape and keeping me busy. I don’t have a set time to wake up. Our coach has been sending out workouts and stick drills that we can do. I still go to a brick wall and a goal set up at the school.”
How much were you looking forward to playing for coach Ovchinnikoff? “With basketball our team went pretty far, so I missed the first week of lacrosse tryouts. I came back and only had a week of practice, played one scrimmage. She’s more direct and sometimes more blunt about things, but it’s a good thing and I was excited to play under her.”
How tough was it initially in losing your final season of high school lacrosse? “We were all hoping that we would get the chance to go back to our normal lives and see each other again. Being able to be around each other. ...with the school aspect I miss seeing my friends and teachers, and that interaction with other people. With sports it was like, ‘Whoa, what am I going to do for the next five months before I go to college?’ It’s tough not being able to play any real live games before going off to college lacrosse. And with workout it’s hard to do the stay-at-home things. I don’t have the weights to make me stronger. It’s body-weight things. It’s a hard adjustment. Going from being busy all the time to not being busy at all is tough. I’m trying to make it as real as possible.”
How have you processed those emotions with your teammates? “With basketball and our last game, all the emotions were there and that’s when it hit me. As of right now it hasn’t come into fruition that I’m not going to have a lacrosse Senior Night, or not going to prom. ...not being able to accomplish lacrosse milestones, or play again with Lizzie or Cassidy, I don’t like having the thought of not having that closure.”