Senior-laden West Deptford has big goals

On Friday, the seniors of the West Deptford girls' lacrosse team will head to Disney World for a class trip.

Talking about it, coach Julie Catrambone breathed a sigh of relief.

"Thankfully, we don't have any games that week," she said.

But what about practice?

"Don't ask," she said with a laugh. "One step at a time."

Next week might be the only one of the season in which the makeup of her team becomes an inconvenience for Catrambone.

The Eagles enter this season with 10 seniors in their starting lineup.

Not only is it an uncommonly veteran group, it's an uncommonly athletic one.

Nine of those seniors will play a sport in college - seven will play lacrosse, two will play field hockey.

All are highly competitive, and all expect to win this season.

"We're all best friends, and most of us have been playing together since third grade," said senior midfielder Samantha Budd. "It's sad that this is our last season together, but it's exciting at the same time because I know that we can be successful and we can get it done."

Budd is a three-sport athlete, starring in basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. She likely could have played any of those sports in college. But like most of her teammates, she thinks there's just something special about lacrosse, and she will continue to play it next year at Rutgers.

Most of the senior class met when their parents formed a youth lacrosse league when the girls were in third grade.

Senior attack Christina Petito's mother was one of the coaches. Petito is one of Budd's best friends. And when Budd says she'll miss playing with her current classmates, she should actually qualify that statement. Petito is also headed to Rutgers for lacrosse next year.

The chemistry between the two, on and off the field, was too good not to keep going into college.

Both turned in monster seasons last year. Budd paired 54 goals with 25 assists. Petito had 54 goals and 28 assists.

"I think we both can see the field really well. There are a lot of times when you're cutting through the 8-meter, and you're open just for a split second. We're both good at finding each other in those moments," said Petito, who also stars in field hockey. "We trust each other. We trust that we're going to catch that pass. We just trust that we're going to make the shot."

Trust is one of the themes for this year's Eagles. They're so close that, at times, it's more like a family relationship - for better and worse.

Practices can be some of the most competitive that Catrambone has seen.

"At times it kind of freaks me out, because it's almost like they're going to kill each other," Catrambone said. "They just work so extremely hard. They push each other to make each other better - which is really cool to see."

Last year, the Eagles finished 16-4, advancing to the South Jersey Group 2 semifinals.

They have bigger goals this year. They want to win the Gloucester County Cup. They want to go farther in the playoffs. They want to make their last season together, as a group, special.

"We've had so many years together that we really expect to finish strong," Petito said. "We know it's our last year together, but we also know it could be our best year together."

rallysports@phillynews.com.