BENNINGTON >> The Mount Anthony Lacrosse Association will have a stamp on the 2016 MAU varsity girls lacrosse team.
Out of 20 players on the roster, six — 40 percent — will be freshman, newly removed from the U-15 MALA group.
"We have a very young team and we lost most of our defensive line, so we have to build that up again," said second-year MAU head coach Whitney Brooks.
After graduating two defensive captains in Sam Cross and Catie Lyons, some returners on the defensive side include Claire Taub, Munroe Ports, Katherine Doucette and Rosie West. They're expected to get the younger players up to speed, but according to Brooks and second-year assistant coach Chloe Griffin, they shouldn't have to do too much.
"MALA has been such a big deal for us, they get the kids ready and [the kids] do what you ask them to do," Griffin said. "We were going over defensive plays and they already knew them. We're two weeks ahead already. It's amazing to have freshmen coming on the field who know what they're doing and who want it as bad as the rest."
A major strength for the Patriots will be on the offensive side of the ball, where most of the stars from last season return, including the top two leading scorers, junior Emily Altland and senior Bridget Ahearn. Brianna Zipprich and Annie Peck, both of whom made big contributions last season are expected to do that again.
"Offensively we're strong, we're doing pretty well," Brooks said. "They are meshing so well, it's great to watch that happen. I've never coached a team that meshed so well from the beginning. Personality-wise we're there, skill-wise, we still have to build a little bit."
In goal, junior Carly Plaisance takes over after waiting behind two seniors, Sam Mayer and Leah Olansky, who graduated in 2015.
"It's a tough position to fill, you are the [last line of defense]," Brooks said. "She's progressed a lot since last year and she's a great goalie, I think she'll do really well at this level."
The Patriots start the season on the road against Pittsfield, Mass., then host the home opener against Hoosick Falls.
"We're taking it one day at a time," Griffin said. "We're not inexperienced, but still really young and inexperienced working together. We'll work on our flaws from that and not look too far ahead."
Brooks said she's optimistic that the team will peak at the right time. Their first action against other teams will come Sunday during a scrimmage in East Longmeadow, Mass.
"We're not truly going to know what's going on until we see them on the field," Brooks said.