Last Tuesday night, Cassidy Spilis took a break from packing for her senior class trip to Disney World and reflected on her life in lacrosse.
Among her classmates who would take the trip with her were five Seneca girls’ lacrosse teammates who, like Spilis, will play the sport at the next level.
Spilis has played with many of those girls since kindergarten. And when she thought back on it all — and on the fact that this is their last season and school year together — she actually got a little choked up.
There are still times — and much of this is owed to those teammates — when Spills walks off a lacrosse field, smiles, and tells her mother: “I love playing this sport.”
“There’s just not a lot of things that I love doing at all more than this,” Spilis said.
What’s surprising is how little Spills talks about scoring goals when she talks about her love of lacrosse.
Spillis — it shouldn’t be forgotten — does score goals. A lot of goals.
She scored exactly 100 as a junior and already has 28 this season for the 6-0 Golden Eagles.
But, in some ways, that’s the part of her game that almost blends in with the scenery.
What really stands out is everything she does besides score. As a midfielder, she’s strong in the defensive third of the field. She’s dominant on draws. And she fosters chemistry with a talented group of teammates who have Seneca positioned as one of South Jersey’s top girls’ lacrosse teams.
“Right now, it’s all about making the most of this season.” Spilis said.
In her second year coaching the Golden Eagles, Jackie Scuderi has an offensive philosophy that center on giving players freedom as opposed to defined movements.
“I have had some very talented athletes” Scuderi said. “I try not to constrict them to a system. We have plays and we have our different motions, but, for the most part, they’re free. … We try to keep a high-intensity, high-pace offense and they’re free to make plays happen.”
The system has proved successful for Scuderi. Before going to Seneca, she coached Middle Township to a South Jersey championship. That team featured Bridget Ruskey, a 2017 graduate who set a state record with 485 career goals.
Scuderi’s system has been a perfect fit for a Seneca team that, like those Middle Township teams, thrives on its chemistry and thrives on the players’ ability to read each other on the field.
“There’s so many girls on the team who can feed the ball perfectly to me and set me up for easy goals,” said Spilis, a Rutgers recruit. “One girl in particular, Lindy Webb, we have pictures of us playing together in kindergarten. I always call her my number-one feeder. She knows where I’m going to be, she knows where I like the ball, and can give me such a good pass — those are the things that really help me have success.”
Spilis described herself has a fierce competitor, at times her own top critic. It’s largely how she was able to turn her natural athleticism into an incredibly well-rounded, advanced skill set.
It’s also what’s fueling her expectations for this season.
Seneca, the favorite in the Olympic Conference National Division, fell just short of reaching the South Jersey Group 3 final last year after a loss to Ocean City in the semifinals. The goal is to make it past that game this year, to make it to the championship, where they would likely face state juggernaut Moorestown.
That would be a long shot for any team. But one Spilis is looking forward to taking.