The Lady Trojans had their ups and downs this season, but they were also a team with one goal in mind — take down seven-time state champion Milton and claim their first state title.
Though Lassiter fell short of its goal, losing 10-7 to Milton in the state finals, it proved to itself that it’s getting better and closer to that opportunity.
“We were playing really well going into the postseason, and Centennial hadn’t been beaten,” Harmeyer said of the Lady Trojans’ quarterfinal-round matchup, an 18-2 romp. “But we just dominated that game, and I knew we were going to have a chance at Milton.
“We knew all year that this would probably be our closest year, and that we had a chance to beat (Milton). They’re a great program, but it’s getting closer and closer every year and everyone’s getting more even with each other. We were ready to go going into that game, but a few turnovers and different calls, and it could have been a whole different game.”
Harmeyer tried some different things with her team this season, taking Lassiter to play teams from the Washington, D.C., area and changing roles for players to improve the product on the field.
Both plans worked and Harmeyer, the 2013 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year, got her squad back to the state championship game for the first time since 2010.
“It’s always a great honor to be named coach of the year,” she said. “I give all of the credit to my team. If it weren’t for them and their hard work, and my coaching staff, I wouldn’t be coach of the year.
“I have a great staff. We work really well together. I have a lot of support from our parents and our community in general, and especially the administration here at Lassiter. They give us a whole lot of support and give us what we need, so it’s a group effort.”
Lassiter won its first eight games before its D.C. trip, where the Lady Trojans went 1-3-1. They went 6-3 upon their return to Georgia to end the year as the Class AAAAAA state runner-up with a 15-6-1 record.
Led by team captains Johnna and Alex Fusco, Cydney Tutchton and Skyler Hanson, along with senior Marcie Merriman, Lassiter performed to its expectations.
“We had a small senior class, but a huge junior class that’s been playing together since they were little,” Harmeyer said, “so they’ve been tight on and off the field, just like our sophomore class, which is also a big class. So, the closeness has always been there. I think that’s probably been a big part (of our success), that we did have that close-knit, family-type atmosphere from the very beginning.
“They’ll go after each other and hold each other accountable, and they’re tough on each other, but they take it well.”
Harmeyer described the Lady Trojans as a competitive group of hard-working players that wanted to be pushed during practices. Because the roster was deep, the squad was also versatile, which played into its balance.
“This was probably the most balanced team that we’ve had,” Harmeyer said. “We moved Alex from midfield to high defense, so were speedy at every position, which was nice. We’ve not been able to really have that every year. We had a lot of speed at every position and a whole lot of athleticism and talent and skill. If it wasn’t working for us on offense, we could stop (opposing teams) on defense and try to get the ball back.”
“It was great run. We almost got it, and we’re going to be right back in there next year. I think, next year, we may even have a better chance. I think this team kind of set the standard and the expectation to what we’re trying to build. I think they’ve finally come up to meet that and it should be fun for the next few years.”