LEWISTON — Aggressive.

Anyone who has played a sport has inevitably had at least one coach pontificate on the value of gritty, hard-nosed play.

Anyone who has been around sports long enough has likely also heard the word spelled out ad nauseum via sideline cheerleaders, reemphasizing the coaches’ message.

Even with no school-sanctioned cheerleaders on the sidelines at Lewiston High School girls’ lacrosse games this season, expect to hear that word even more with longtime football coach Skip Capone at the helm.

“We work on ground balls a lot, one-(versus)-ones, to work on that,” senior Laurianne Murphy said. “That’s the biggest thing he works on is being aggressive, because we’re not always the most aggressive people on this team. I think we struggle with that sometimes, but we’re getting used to it.”

“We need that extra push,” fellow senior Brie Wilson said. “If he doesn’t get on us and yell a little bit, we might not always try our hardest. I think he’ll definitely motivate us to do better, do our best.”


Capone was a late — and unlikely — addition to the girls’ lacrosse coaching ranks. When Butch Dow, who also coached girls’ soccer, left both positions at Lewiston, Athletic Director Jason Fuller had to act quickly to fill the position.

“You look at the criteria of a coach, forget the lacrosse part for a minute,” Fuller said. “He fits the bill. He’s organized. He’s going to work extremely hard. If he doesn’t know something, I know he’s going to go out and get people who do know the answers. He’s done a lot of homework just since the season started. I know the girls are going to get a good experience from the athletic side, and by the end of it, I think he’s going to be a pretty good lacrosse coach once he figures out all of the finer details. I just know him as a person. He’s worked tirelessly throughout his career. He’s a good human being and he’s worked a lot for the kids of Lewiston. I don’t think you can ask for much more than that.”

Capone was even taken aback by the speed at which the process unfolded.

“I’m getting closer to the end of my career, I’ve been around a long time,” Capone said. “I figure, I’m always looking for different challenges, different ways your career may end up. But if you gave me a list of possible jobs, one to a hundred, girls’ lacrosse was probably 101, to be honest. I never thought it would be a way I would go.

“They’ve done a great job. Most of the girls know me from school, so that made the transition a lot easier. I think the hardest part was, I wasn’t named coach until three days before the season started.”

Capone has been a fast study, and he’s quick to point out that the team is populated by solid athletes who have adapted to the sudden change well.


“We have a good group,” Capone said. “Like any other team in the spring, the kids have a lot of stuff going on. We have a good core of girls back. We had a good little round-robin down at Morse last weekend. We were pretty happy with the results. We found out some good things about some kids, and we found out some areas we need to improve.

“We’re starting from zero with these kids, which is both good and bad,” he said. “We told the girls, ‘You’re all starting equal. I don’t care what you did a year ago. It doesn’t matter. You have to come out and prove yourself every day at practice.'”

One philosophy, beyond being aggressive, that transcends most sports is the notion that defensive prowess is a key to success.

“Putting this whole thing together, obviously emphasizing being mentally and physically tough, being in great shape and great fundamentally,” Capone said, but really, being great starting from the back end.”

The Devils have that start with keeper Sam Cote, a second-team league all-star last season.

“Knowing Sam is a proven commodity, and surrounding her with some good defenders, the transition offense will take care of itself,” Capone said. “Not many high school girls’ teams score when the ball settles in the offensive end, let’s be honest. Most of them are in transition, catch someone out of position, go up the field and take a shot.”


And though the defense lost a big piece to graduation in Emily Paione, the rest of the players are ready to pick up the slack.

“Defense is so big for a team,” Murphy said. “We lost Emily Paione from last year, which is hard, because she was so knowledgeable and she helped everyone around her, but we have some players coming in who know about defense too, and they can all come in and help with a good defensive line.”

Many of the team’s top-flight attackers and midfielders also graduated, but with seven seniors on the roster, including Wilson, Murphy, Cote and her sister, Jess, there is plenty of leadership remaining.

“We’ve been playing together for a long time, and that definitely helps us,” Wilson said. “We have seniors who can teach and help lead the newer players, and I think that we can lead them in the right direction. We have a lot of new girls, but they’re all very hard-working, and they’re willing to learn anything and do anything to help out.”

“Anything” will no doubt include being aggressive.

“(Capone) is always like, ‘You get to the ball first. Don’t let her beat you. Be aggressive,'” Wilson said. “We had a play day last Saturday, and you could see the girls took it to heart. I think that mindset is the way to go, especially in lacrosse. It’s a running game, and you need to beat opponents to the ball, beat them to the goal.”


“There are a lot of things in coaching that transcend all of it,” Capone said. “Coaching aggressiveness, doing things the right way, how to practice, how to focus and those kinds of things. You look at all the good coaches — and I’m not saying I’m one of them, but I’ve been around a long time and you’re around a lot of good coaches — and no matter what sport it is, they all have the same qualities.”

Perhaps the most important: Instilling a winning attitude.

“We lost a lot of good talent from last year, but we kept a lot of good talent, too, we should be good.” Murphy said. “People have to play new positions, do a few new things. It will be an adjustment, but I think we’ll have a pretty good team.”

“Our focus is to work as hard as we can, and I think we can get pretty far with that,” Wilson said.

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