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 Utica Eisenhower’s Elle Valicevic looks for an outlet May 8 in a game against Grosse Pointe North on the road.

Utica Eisenhower’s Elle Valicevic looks for an outlet May 8 in a game against Grosse Pointe North on the road.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Utica Eisenhower girls lacrosse blocking out the noise

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 13, 2019


SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — Fourteen games into the season and the Utica Eisenhower girls lacrosse team has won 14 games. With that success comes pressure.

The Eagles had gone through a lull earlier in the season. They were winning, but coach Desiree Messina didn’t feel the team was playing to its full potential. After a talk with her players, she learned of some outside pressure they were feeling to keep the undefeated streak alive.

Messina’s response was simple: The streak meant nothing to her if the team was not playing to the best of its ability.

That message turned the mental aspect of the Eagles’ game around.

“With a streak like this, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in how great you’re doing,” Messina said. “But these kids make sure that they reset their minds every single day, whether it be a practice or a game, to know that they just have to do what’s right in front of them and work hard that day.”

The coach used the word “humble” to describe her team. Ike girls lacrosse is currently in its third season. Some of the kids didn’t pick up a stick until high school. The Eagles’ mental and physical development is not lost on their coach.

“These kids make it so easy,” Messina said. “They are always so willing to learn and so receptive to feedback. They also have their own ideas that they bring to the table that make our team better. They’ve just truly developed over the last couple of years, and it’s been truly incredible.”

While the team leadership has been a group effort this season, there were four players that Messina wanted to recognize.

The first was Morgan McCloud, who has impressed her coach both on and off the field. McCloud is graduating No. 1 in her class and had the opportunity to pick from prestigious colleges like Harvard, MIT and Duke.

“She is someone that the team looks to for energy and positivity,” Messina said. “Not only is she hilarious, but she works so hard both on and off the field. She is so exceptional in everything she does.”

Next on the list was Lindsay Valentine, the team’s leading scorer in just her third year ever playing the sport. Messina said Valentine is a fantastic person off the field, and her skill on the field is unmatched.

Kendra Nolan and Lacy Valutis were the last two names mentioned by their coach. Messina praised both players’ leadership and ability to put others first.

The Eagles will play their first playoff game May 24 in a Division 1 regional tournament. Ike will await the winner of West Bloomfield High and Utica Ford II, who will face off in a pre-regional match.

In order to prep for the postseason, the Eagles have been watching ample amounts of film. Each of Ike’s games are filmed and made available for every player. Recently, the Eagles have been watching full games, breaking them down in terms of what went well and what they would have done differently.

The way the regional plays out, Messina believes her team has the ability to make a deep run in the playoffs — a monumental feat for a program still in its early stages.

“The draw that we have is really good for us,” Messina said. “We potentially play two teams that we have already beaten this season. Looking at that, there is no reason why that shouldn’t hold true in the playoffs. The way this season has played out so far, we should potentially make it to the regional finals.”