High school girls lacrosse: Hodges primed to guide South Jefferson's balanced and talented offense

Mar. 31—ADAMS — Last year Savannah Hodges experienced a breakout campaign with South Jefferson's girls lacrosse team.

Now she will be asked to be even more of a leader this season and guide the team further on offense as well.

As a junior, Hodges generated 112 points, including generating 86 goals to finish among the leaders in Section 3 in scoring.

Now she'll take on a new role in directing the Spartans' potent attack and she welcomes the challenge.

"My role was pretty big last year, but I think I think it might be even bigger this year as a captain," Hodges said. "I have to also contribute as a leader to the team while also like basically controlling the offense and like calling the plays and everything."

Also a team captain, Hodges will help lead a team which has been dominant in recent years in league play as they will be gunning for yet another Frontier League title.

"I definitely like it because I feel like I can see what play needs to be called at the right time, so now have the ability to do that when I think it's right," Hodges said.

"You need somebody to do that," South Jefferson coach Jen Williams said of Hodges' new role. "And what a great position to be in behind the cage, like the quarterback to be able to communicate that. And in practice she should be aware of what's working, what's not against what defense against the strengths of her own teammates.

"She has that ability, she studies the game, she loves the game, she's multi-dimensional in that aspect, she's athlete, she's a three-sport athlete, she's used to stressful situations. So putting the team on her back and being able to being able to call the offense is a luxury for us as coaches, but as teammates it's nice to have that person as well."

Hodges says she enjoys scoring goals, but also likes setting up her teammates as well for scoring opportunities.

"I would call it a mobile offense because everyone's always moving and getting to a new spot to confuse the defense and get people open," Hodges said.

"She distributes well and that's a growing part, but that position isn't always for passing specifically," Williams said. "She's a righty on the right side and lucky for us we have several lefties, but traditionally that is a driving, scoring position, that's her role. But that being said, if she's facing double teams or getting shut off, she distributes very well. And she's dynamic, too, as a feeder, you don't know what she's going to do, she can position herself or use her body looking as if she's going to drive, but then can feed as well so that's part of her athleticism."

Hodges will serve as team captain along with fellow seniors Jade Doldo, who will also play attack, and goalie Anna Hobbs.

"We definitely lost some great seniors, but the girls coming up are just working so hard and are doing great," Hodges said. "And the girls that have already been on the team are just amazing, they give it their all and that's what makes us such a competitive team."

"And with our attackers, I feel like they're super strong, we make great decisions and just know when the time is right and we've been working on that for like a lot of years," Hodges said. "And then our main middies like Brooke and Lily, they're great, they're super quick and they can get to the goal super good, so that's also a strong point of our offense."

With juniors Perry and Morrison leading the midfield, senior Madison Pfleegor will anchor the defense along with senior Sophia Watts and junior Chloe Elmer, who is taking the draws on the faceoff circle.

"I definitely think so, I think we may be stronger because we're more connected then we were last year, and I think that's a super positive thing," Hodges said.

The Spartans have won the past six Frontier League crowns and had won 59 consecutive league games entering the season, a streak which stretches back to a 2017.

"Definitely, we dominate the league and it's a super huge accomplishment for the South Jeff girls lacrosse program itself," Hodges said. "And it's just amazing what the team's have been able to do over the years."

Beyond league play, South Jefferson has reached the past three Section 3 finals in Class D, losing to postseason rival Skaneateles all three times, including a 6-4 setback last year to the eventual state champion.

"I think it was a really fun season, we had a great time together and I think we were successful up to the last game," Hodges said. "We had a few like mishaps in the last game, but we're ready to fix those this year and go even farther."

Historically, South Jefferson won a sectional championship in 2017 before reaching a state semifinal.

"We're pretty well rounded," Williams said of this year's team. "We're off to a pretty start, I mean it's league play, but our nonleague schedule starts soon and that's where the rubber meets the road as far as knowing where you stand."

The Spartans will take on another challenging nonleague schedule as they'll face off against Section 5's Victor, which won the past two state titles in Class B last year, and Canandaigua and Webster Thomas, as well as closer to home against Baldwinsville, which won a state championship in Class A in 2022, as well as Cicero-North Syracuse.

"That's the goal and I think that should be the goal at the varsity level is to try and compete to get to the sectional finals," Williams said. "And we've done that, it's just a matter of trying to get our kids to believe that they belong."

South Jefferson which won its first two games this year, opened its season with a 16-10 win last Tuesday against Indian River, which last season won the program's first sectional title by claiming the 2018 crown, en route to advancing to a state semifinal.

"They're pretty good, they have strong players on their team," Hodges said of Indian River. "But we definitely dominated last year and this year playing against them, so it was a good start."

Besides pursuing another league championship and led by a confident Hodges, the Spartans have even loftier goals in mind down the road this season.

"I think that it's going to be a super positive thing this year," Hodges said. "We're super competitive, we're definitely going to make it further than we did last year, hopefully win a sectional championship. We're definitely confident about that."

Hodges, who will attend the University at Albany is one of several teammates who will move on to play Division I lacrosse, including Watts, who also selected UAlbany as her college choice.

Pfleegor signed on with Niagara University, as did Doldo with Robert Morris University.

"It's awesome, I'm super grateful for it, I'm super excited to go there and play with a bunch of amazing girls under amazing coaches," Hodges said.