By Lauren Read
In the offseason, Bella Rieley decided to switch up her routine. The senior started shooting … a lot.
Every day she would head to The Edge and shoot, 100 shots, 150 shots. All that hard work has paid off this season as Rieley has emerged as a scoring threat for the 6-1 Champlain Valley Union High School girls lacrosse team.
“I would set up a goal and bring a bucket of balls and just hammer away,” Rieley said. “I started to focus on my shot, and it just evolved from there.”
The Williston resident has 26 goals so far this season for the Redhawks, including an eight-goal effort in the team’s only loss of the season against Mount Anthony.
“It’s my last season,” Rieley said. “This is my last hurrah. I would like to say this is my time to shine. I am just giving it my all.”
The change in offseason routine coincided with coach Tucker Pierson’s decision to move the senior from midfield to attack this year. With an experienced and balanced midfield and defense, the coach wanted to put some leadership on offense.
“We were looking for a little more leadership on attack, and Bella fits that role completely,” Pierson said. “She is helping run the offense. She really helps others feel confident.”
Rieley has risen to the task. In addition to providing some needed senior experience, Rieley has also provided the Redhawks with another offensive weapon, taking pressure off midfielders Lydia Maitland and Cate Noel.
The balanced scoring attack has helped a CVU team emerge as a Division I threat nearly halfway through the regular season. The team has scored 10 or more goals in all seven of their games.
Part of that offensive success is Rieley’s consistency. She has a 100 percent conversion rate in three of her games, scoring on every single shot she took.
“She was 16-for-16 in three games,” Pierson said. “She is learning where the goalie moves and putting it around her.”
Now Rieley is starting to take more chances, getting more confident when she has free position shots and learning how to place a shot on net.
“Definitely placing the shot is key,” Rieley said. “My confidence is just building. If I think I have (the shot) I will just go for it.”
Rieley’s growing confidence could signal trouble for the rest of the state. CVU has set a goal of advancing further in the playoffs — the team has fallen in the D-I semifinals the last two seasons — and its growing offensive game will certainly help.
“We have experience,” Peirson said. “We have leadership, we have defense, we have scoring, we have great goalkeeping. We have all the ingredients to make a great team.”
With Rieley’s new touch making CVU an offensive threat and adding to an already experienced team, the Redhawks are emerging as a team to beat this season.
“I have seen what we can do as a team together,” Rieley said. “There are some amazing teams out there, but at the rate we have been growing, I think we can make it (to the final).”