Lauren Irvine got the shock of her life last season while attending the Wissahickon High girls lacrosse end-of-the-year banquet.

At some point in the proceedings, Trojans head coach Dave Schlesinger asked outgoing captain Laura Frankenfield to stand up.

Frankenfield, the school's all-time leading goal scorer, now playing at Boston College, produced a large piece of paper and began reading.

"Laura started reading about a player on the team who always hustled, who played hard all the time and who used to come to her for advice,' Irvine said. "I thought, ' Could she be talking about me?''

At the end of the heartfelt speech, Frankenfield announced that she was handing down her No. 13 jersey to Irvine, who was to wear it this year as the genesis of a new Wissahickon lacrosse tradition, the handing down of the No. 13 jersey to the next team leader, as chosen by the wearer herself.

"Laura was such a great contributor to the team,' Irvine said. "I always went to her for advice and for help and she was always there for me.

"I was so honored, I almost started crying.'

"We wanted to start the tradition,' Schlesinger said, "as an expression of respect, for a player whose skill and leadership was worthy of the jersey.

"When you're the greatest player in the history of the school, which Laura was, that makes the tradition special.'


While in awe of Frankenfield's skill and leadership, Irvine said she plans to proudly uphold that tradition, and it won't take any extra effort.

"I feel like I click well with my teammates,' Irvine said. "Outside of lacrosse I'm good friends with everyone on the team. I feel people can come to me with anything.

"I get text messages (from teammates) every day, asking about things on and off the lacrosse field and I love it. I absolutely love it.'

Irvine added she gave out advice and helped teammates last season.

"Players came to me, I think, because they were intimidated by Laura,' she said. "They weren't afraid of her, Laura is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. I think they were just intimidated by how great a player she was.'

While just starting her junior year, Irvine has made a verbal commitment to attend Old Dominion, a connection Irvine never saw coming.

"(ODU) contacted my club coach,' Irvine said, "and she e-mailed me. I was going to Virginia for a tournament and they asked if I could swing by and see the school.'

It was, Irvine said, love at first sight.

"I absolutely loved it,' she said. "I told them I'd let them know by Labor Day weekend, but then I needed a little more time. They called in October and I told them I was obsessed with the school, I loved the coaches and the players and I told them I'd go.'

But first there's the matter of a couple of more lacrosse seasons at Wissahickon.

And Irvine is eagerly anticipating this year.

"We're very young,' she said. "I think we have four seniors and five juniors and everyone else is a sophomore or freshman, so if our young players step up, we'll be very good. And I've seen a lot of improvement already.

"I know (Schlesinger) is expecting a lot.'

But while Schlesinger is expecting a lot from the Trojans, they, and most of the rest of the Suburban One League's American Conference have to be wary of the inclusion of Hatboro-Horsham, last year's SOL Continental Conference champs, and Abington into a realigned league.

"We're always up for new challenges,' said Upper Dublin head coach Dee Cross, "and you could see this coming. The old alignment just wasn't equitable.'

As for Cross' Cardinals, who had their SOL American winning streak stopped at 80 games, but still managed their sixth straight SOL championship, they will be in the hunt for No. 7 behind the goal-scoring of Taylor D'Ginto, Rachel DiFrangia and Julie Cross (Syracuse) and a defense led by Anna Petrucci and goalkeeper Sarah Gallagher.

"Losing Kayla McAneney (to a knee injury suffered playing basketball) was a big hit for our defense,' Coach Cross said. "Right now we're filling in with a freshman and a sophomore and we have two freshmen playing attack. But we're strong through the midfield.'

Another program that could make some American noise is Upper Merion, which snuck into the district playoffs a year ago, and features a strong returning varsity group led by senior midfielder Liz Botto, senior Jackie Schaible and a pair of juniors, Julia Reinert and Anna Davis, who are both coming off injuries.

Plymouth Whitemarsh is another program that will rise or fall on the abilities of its underclassmen. Sophomore attack Monica Dresnin (Rutgers) and junior middie Kristen Monte (Wagner) are the notable names. But there are some talented teammates who are looking to make names for themselves.

"We have a good core of eight juniors, three or four sophomores and three real good freshmen,' said PW head coach Ellen Reilly. "And our eighth graders could be our best class.'

Over at Norristown, Brian Kennedy has moved into the head coaching chair, and likes what he sees in the early going.

"We have about 40 kids out for the team, and everyone thought they'd quit,' Kennedy said. "But they're still here.'

Kennedy, who's receiving ample aid from assistant Erin Grodnitsky, has been impressed with the play of seniors Keifonna Ferguson (a second-team All-League selection last year) and defender Janni Justice, who was the team's goaltender last year.

Underclassmen Natalie Mitchell (attack) Jennifer Kennedy (defense), Kimberly Byrd (defense) and Morgan Randolph (freshman midfielder) also should be key contributors.

"Our motto is, ' Play Hard, Play Smart and Have Fun,'" Kennedy said.

The lone local participant in the SOL's National Conference, North Penn, will benefit from the exit of Hatboro-Horsham, but will have to deal with the likes of returning SOL National champ Pennsbury and remainder of the perennially tough conference.

Defender Gabby DiDomizio (Iona) and midfielder Kaitlin Suzuki (Temple), both coming back from injuries, and defender Ashley Durham (Old Dominion) are the major Maidens.

In the Pioneer Athletic Conference, everyone continues to chase Boyertown, they of the 10 straight conference championships.

"I think we're all chasing Boyertown until somebody beats Boyertown,' quipped Methacton head coach Laurie Markle. "Every year they just have a team full of good athletes.'

Markle doesn't think her Warriors athletes are too shabby, either, especially goal scorers Ellie Schmidt (Florida Southern) and Sara Hughes and defender Kelly Glatthorn.

"We have a lot of speed,' Markle said, "and overall we have a core group of kids who have a good lax IQ. We're still trying to get our offense to gel,'

Another major player in the PAC chase is Spring-Ford, which features no fewer than six Division One commits, including senior middies Kira Gensler (Temple), Maddie Dishman (Cincinnati) and Julianna Radzinski (Cincinnati).

Perkiomen Valley is in rebuilding mode after losing some 13 contributors to last year's team. The Vikings defense, however, looks solid with defender Nathalie Sell and goalkeeper Harley Barrett among the conference's best.

At Pope John Paul II, the Golden Panthers are looking for improvement in their second season under head coach Maureen Burger. Attack Jordan Kengor, a Shippensburg commit, is expected to be one of the their top scorers.

If Boyertown is everyone's target in the PAC, then the Philadelphia Catholic League bullseye is clearly drawn on Archbishop Carroll, which is coming off its 13th straight league championship.

And with no fewer than seven Patriots players already committed to collegiate programs, they'll be the favorites to haul in No. 14.

But that's far from head coach Lorraine Beers' ultimate goal.

"We'd like to win states,' Beers said unflinchingly, recalling last year's controversial overtime loss to eventual state finalist Radnor in opening round of the state tourney. "We have to find a way to get the job done this year.'

The likes of midfielders Margaret Filippelli (Loyola), Brittany Hazard (Saint Joseph's) and Megan Santoleri (Delaware) will attempt to help that goal become reality.

Meanwhile, Lansdale Catholic will attempt to find its way back to the PCL playoffs under first-year head coach Marsi Trainor. The Crusaders won 12 games a year ago before falling to St. Hubert's in the PCL quarterfinals. LC is led by defender Mel Suskie and attack Jackie Shea.

In the Inter-Academic League, Germantown Academy will look to climb back into prominence in a circuit that's been owned by Episcopal Academy over the past seven seasons.

Defender Harley Sternberg (Vanderbilt) and midfielders Hannah Bogorowski (Gettysburg) and Cooper Hall (Yale) are the top Patriots.