Verona has had a knack for winning close games this season – and there isn’t an overly complicated reason for that.
“We are gritty,” senior Abbi Rupnow said. “It’s that simple. We wanna win and we know we can and great teams always find a way.”
The Verona girls lacrosse club is 15-0 on the season – with four of those victories one-goal wins.
“This team is full of grit and we never hang our heads,” senior Lauren Volk said. “We fight all the way to the buzzer and trust our systems.”
That mindset has helped the Wildcats reach the state’s No. 1 ranking. Verona’s ranking and unbeaten regular season has not come without challenges.
Verona has faced the rest of the state’s top five and has conquered them all – No. 2 Arrowhead, No. 3 University School of Milwaukee, No. 4 Hudson and No. 5 Kettle Moraine. All of those Wildcat wins came by one goal.
“It definitely shows us what we are capable of doing, our record this whole season has been 0-0 and nothing is ever given,” Volk said. “It’s everyone’s shot during the playoffs so we are going to bring everything we got to show off our program.”
Verona recently capped off its third straight unbeaten Madison Area Conference title after a 15-1 victory over Oregon. With a season lost to COVID, the Wildcats’ seniors have never suffered a conference defeat.
“It means everything to us, especially the seniors,” Rupnow said. “To have never lost a conference game is something we are very proud of and the whole team has been fired up since our early exit in playoffs last year so having the success we are having this year is everything we have all been working for.”
Verona’s season ended at the hands of Hudson last season in an 8-6 defeat in the playoffs.
“Our unfinished business that was left last year has driven everyone’s mindset and attitude throughout this whole season,” Volk said. “We have a big senior class with a lot of experience. And we all know that we can’t take anything for granted.”
With team success often comes individual ones. Rupnow – a Division I Mercer University commit – recently reached the 200-goal milestone in just three years of play.
“It means a lot to me because I love lacrosse and I love succeeding but I would have not been able to accomplish that milestone without the support and effort from everyone else on the team,” Rupnow said. “They are truly the reason I have been able to accomplish everything I have.”
Volk is a Grand Valley State commit, while fellow senior Jasmine Connor is an American University commit. Junior Hannah Jabas – who recently surpassed 100-career goals – is a Northern Michigan commit.
Rupnow said a big factor of the team’s success this season is how many players are capable of making big plays at any time.
“This year everyone on the team has contributed so much and it’s our team effort and chemistry that has brought us all of this success,” Rupnow said.
Rupnow added another big part of the team's success this season has come from great coaching – led by head coach Chris Volk.
“They put in so much work everyday to make sure we are prepared for any challenges that come our way,” Rupnow said.
Verona’s next challenge? Win a state championship. The postseason starts May 30 with state slated for June 10.
“End goal is to get to the championship game and give our program a chance,” Volk said. “We talked at the beginning of the year about leaving a legacy and that is exactly what we plan to do. In order to get there we need to continue to get better each practice and play the way we all know we are capable of. We don’t feel like we have played our most complete game yet.”