SOUTHWEST ORANGE When the Olympia Titans girls lacrosse team takes the field Feb. 8 for its regular-season opener, the team will be playing for its third coach in as many seasons.
Normally, that kind of turnover results in a lack of cohesion that manifests itself in losses.
Bucking that trend, the Titans are hopeful they will advance to the FHSAA State Semifinals for a third time in as many years. Led by a talented, experienced senior class, Olympia may not miss a beat.
“They’re the key to the season,” head coach Chip Carbiener said of the Titans’ seven seniors.
Carbiener has been involved with the program at Olympia since his own children, Wayne and Katie, were students on campus (Wayne graduated in 2005 and Katie graduated in 2008). Carbiener coached under former head coach Brooke Tobin, who led the program for several seasons through 2014. Last season, the program was headed by Elyse DeLisle, who has begun her collegiate coaching career after an unexpected opportunity arose at Lynchburg College.
Although the turnover has caused some concern, the Titans’ senior class — Ashley Matthews, Brittney Matthews, Kimberly Goic, Jenna Kuka, Hannah Fidelo, Bri Stokes and new addition Karina Santiago — has a level of maturity that has caused Carbiener to muse the girls might still do well without any coach.
“Yeah, the coach helps, obviously — but we have that hunger inside,” Goic said. “We want to win state every year.”
There is also some benefit from Carbiener not being an entirely new face.
“We all know coach Chip, so it’s not that different,” Goic said. “We all know he loves us and wants the best for us.”
“We all know coach Chip, so it’s not that different. We’re used to him. We all know he loves us and wants the best for us. We all appreciate him.”
— Kimberly Goic
The coaching situation may even have an upside. Although similar, each coach has his or her own points of focus, and Ashley Matthews said she and her teammates have learned a well-rounded approach as a result.
“Coach Brooke — she was really straight to the point,” Ashley Matthews said. “With Elyse, we had a lot of options (strategically during the game) and a lot of different ways to do things. Coach Chip — he’s all about speed. That’s his quote, ‘Speed kills.’”
Things will pick up early for the Titans, who on Feb. 10 will face Ponte Vedra — the team that has ended Olympia’s season the past two years in the state semifinals.
And, while underclassmen such as Finley Cassidy and Riley Reagan certainly will play a role in the squad’s success, it will be incumbent upon the the senior class to navigate the tough schedule Carbiener put together.
“Every team takes on the personality of their seniors,” Carbiener said. “(This year’s seniors) rely on their lacrosse sense and their experience of having played in a lot of big games.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].