Girls lacrosse team captains help others improve

NEWTON. All three leaders of the Kittatinny team plan to continue playing in college next year.

Newton /
| 12 May 2023 | 08:01

The enthusiasm and teamwork demonstrated by Kittatinny Regional High School girls lacrosse players haven’t waned throughout this season.

Credit for that goes in no small part to the three senior team captains: Maddie Haug, Molly Riva and Alexa Shotwell.

“The current 2023 season captains were voted on by last year’s team,’’ head coach Michelle Paluzzi said. “Each player voted for two captains and the coaches also get two votes each. Overall, the top three athletes were selected.

“Maddie Haug (defense) has one goal, one assist, 22 ground balls and 20 forced turnovers. She’s a season starter for all three years: 2021, 2022, 2023,” the coach said. The 2020 season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Molly Riva (midfield) has 22 goals, six assists, 19 ground balls, 31 draws and seven forced turnovers. She’s also a season starter for all three years.

“Alexa Shotwell (midfield) had a season-ending injury prior to the start of the season. She has been a tremendous help designing practice plans, taking stats and often uses her lacrosse experience to help others by giving them advice during the games.’’

Helping their teammates improve as lacrosse players is indeed something that each of the captains does quite well.

“The captains are always looking for ways to improve practices by added advice or recommendations,’’ Paluzzi said. “They have aided in designing the warm-up plan for games, lead the half-time talks and communicate after practices about how each day went. The captains have also checked in with players in times of need,” such as family losses, injuries or struggles with school work.”

As individuals, all three captains have made noticeable improvements throughout their high school careers.

“Haug has continued to successfully lead the defensive end with her communication skills,’’ Paluzzi said. “She walks her teammates through specific plays especially by using lacrosse-specific terminology. She has significantly aided in the transition of the ball up the midfield, by running, passing, changing fields, intercepting and/or forcing a turnover.

“Riva is adjusting to becoming center mid and taking the draw. She has learned specific draw techniques. Transitioning to an attacker as needed in specific games and in game situations. Shotwell, along with Haug and Riva, have centered this season around PVO (Positive Vibes Only), making sure to keep positivity, encouragement and player recognition regardless of the outcome on the scoreboard.’’

All three captains are looking to continuing their academic and athletic careers at the college level.

Haug will be playing lacrosse at New Haven University. She plans to major in health sciences and public health and would like to be an occupational therapist.

Riva will attend Saint Francis University to play Division I lacrosse. She plans to major in criminal justice and aims to be a State Police officer in a K-9 unit.

Shotwell will attend Hofstra University and play Division I lacrosse. She plans to study health sciences, and her goal is to become a physical therapist.

Kittatinny has a road game scheduled at Montville on Friday, May 12.

“All seniors have helped contribute significantly on and off the field,’’ Paluzzi said. “Seniors Julia Moore, Ashley Bode, Aniella Casper, Emily Popek and Skyler Kunkle have all helped the team in their respective positions. They are focused in practice, offer help where needed and always give their all in each play.’’

CORRECTIONS: Information about the future plans of Haug and Riva was incorrect in an earlier version of this article. We regret the errors.