WEST NEWBURY — Pentucket girls lacrosse coach Bob Pierce caught his first glimpse of Kayla O'Connor and Liz Jayne on a lacrosse field together when the girls were seventh-graders playing in Pentucket Youth Lacrosse League.
The fifth-year coach remembers feeling anxious as he considered how the pair would impact his program.
"I knew what was coming up the pipeline, but my only fear was that they'd go to private schools," Pierce said. "That would have been a blow to the program."
O'Connor and Jayne assuaged Pierce's fears the following fall by enrolling at Pentucket Regional High. Now sophomores, O'Connor and Jayne are on pace to threaten program records for goal-scoring. The pair have combined for 108 goals and 151 points this season, the fifth consecutive year in which the Sachems (8-5-1) have qualified for the state tournament.
With two games and a postseason remaining on the Pentucket schedule, O'Connor (55 goals, 24 assists) needs 11 goals to surpass her total from freshman season. Jayne (53 goals, 19 assists) has already scored 15 more goals than last season.
"They're so skilled," Pierce said. "Their stick skills are what separates them from the other players on the team and in the (Cape Ann League). They are as good or better than I expected them to be."
Both O'Connor and Jayne are ahead of the school-record pace set by 2007 graduate Sarah Galligan, who is now an NCAA Division 2 All-American at Stonehill College. Galligan scored 245 goals in her four-year career, but only 38 as a freshman and 46 as a sophomore. O'Connor (121 career goals) and Jayne (91 career goals) have proven to be a more productive scoring combination than Galligan, and her former All-CAL linemate Lindsay Beaton.
"This is similar," Pierce said. "Their chemistry was especially evident last year. They played together for so long, you could see one try to set up the other. Now, they're getting more comfortable with the others, and you can see them incorporate everyone."
O'Connor and Jayne started playing together in Newburyport Youth Lacrosse League as fifth-graders. When Pentucket Youth Lacrosse started the following spring, they both switched leagues but remained teammates.
The two haven't followed the exact same path to potential All-CAL accolades. O'Connor plays soccer and plays club lacrosse with Seacoast United. Jayne plays field hockey, basketball and club lacrosse with Synergy.
"We've always had chemistry playing together," Jayne said. "It's more about establishing chemistry with everyone. We've been playing together, we know each other's strengths and weaknesses."
Pierce compares Jayne's style to that of an NFL running back, a power running technique that is capable of creating distance between opponents in the open field. O'Connor, at close to 6-feet, relies on her size and a longer stride. However, both girls possess the ability to put the ball in the net.
"I have good speed and deception," O'Connor said. "I work on developing both hands, and I try to help other players work on stick-handling with both hands. Liz knows how I play, and I know how she plays. We're good friends of the field, so it's all-around good chemistry."
Both Jayne and O'Connor have set goals of following the footsteps of Galligan and playing lacrosse in college.
"I'm not surprised by our success because it's come with effort and hard work," Jayne said. "It's not something that came up all of the sudden. I'm proud because I worked toward it for a long time."
A goal-scoring tradition
Pentucket sophomores Kayla O'Connor and Liz Jayne are ahead of the pace set by the program's all-time leading scorer, Sarah Galligan. Here is a list of their goal-scoring by season.