Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Plant, Wesley Chapel to face off for girls lacrosse title

Caitlin Smith (1) leads Plant into Saturday’s West Florida Lacrosse League championship against Wesley Chapel, which earlier beat Plant.

Photo courtesy of the Smith family

Caitlin Smith (1) leads Plant into Saturday’s West Florida Lacrosse League championship against Wesley Chapel, which earlier beat Plant.

TAMPA — What started out as a silly question blossomed into quite a career path.

Heather Werry graduated high school in Pennsylvania and enrolled at Florida State. Werry, who played lacrosse up North, was spotted one day carrying her stick around campus when someone approached her.

"Why are you carrying a snowshoe?" the person asked.

Needless to say, Werry was quite taken aback, considering she hailed from a part of the country where lacrosse is huge.

"So me and five friends decided to start a club team at FSU," she said.

Fast forward 15 years and Werry, now in her fifth season as the head coach of Plant High's club team, will be leading her team against host Wesley Chapel on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. for the West Florida Lacrosse League championship.

"This has been the best experience ever," she said. "It has been so rewarding."

Plant (13-2) advanced to Saturday's title game after an 8-5 win against Newsome last Friday in the district championship.

"This is the first year we have been super focused," defender Alex Mathews said. "We've had a sense since the beginning of the year that we can win the championship."

Wesley Chapel was one of two teams to beat Plant this year, but Mathews said that defeat was the catalyst for the rest of the season.

"Even though we lost I think that game really taught us a lot," she said of the 9-8 midseason loss to Wesley Chapel. "They played a style we hadn't really seen before. We learned a lot from that game."

Senior midfielder Caitlin Smith agreed, saying Plant will be much more prepared this time around.

"They run a lot of picks and move the ball around really well," she said. "We can't just stay in our triangle defense. You have to be able to get around those picks and slide the defense over."

She also said that loss to Wesley Chapel made the Panthers hungrier.

"It's tough when you lose a close game like that and you know you shouldn't have," she said. "We could have played much better but after that (loss), we really started playing with some much more enthusiasm and things just exploded."

Smith and Mathews are two of 11 seniors on Plant's team. Although she'll be losing a large chunk of the team next year, Werry pointed to the South Tampa Sticks as a reason for optimism.

"They are really an amazing feeder program for us and have done a great job getting these girls ready to play when they reach the high school level," she said.

Sofia Emond leads the Panthers with 24 goals while Sloane Henry tops the team in assists. Goalie Bekah Kleiner, who's started every game this season, also drew praise from Werry.

"She's been absolutely killing it this year," she said.

As of right now, Hillsborough County hasn't adopted lacrosse as a recognized sport though many counties throughout the state have. The School Board is, however, considering adding the sport as a fee-based pilot program next year.

"Lacrosse has just been growing and growing, and it's a sport people just fall in love with," Smith said. "I think adding it would be one of the best things Hillsborough County could do for high school sports."

Brandon Wright can be reached at

. fast facts

Championship games

The West Florida Lacrosse League girls championship between Plant and Wesley Chapel will be held Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Wesley Chapel District Fields. Wharton will play Plant for the boys championship Saturday at 7 p.m., also at the Wesley Chapel District Fields.

Plant, Wesley Chapel to face off for girls lacrosse title 05/03/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Cubs

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    Chris Archer's night ended with his 11th loss, but he and the Rays should feel good about his six solid innings. After the forearm tightness scare in Chicago, he had two rough outings (15 hits, 11 runs, seven innings), so Tuesday was a reassuring rebound.

  4. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  5. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494