WESTERLY — Lawyers have nothing on lacrosse players when it comes to arguing the merits of possession.
The old legal expression "possession is ninth-tenths of the law" might actually serve as an understatement when applied to lacrosse. Possession is that important.
If you don't have the ball, you can't score. And when you have the ball, you control the flow of the game.
And the best way to gain possession and control the game is to win the draw.
That's why Westerly High's Kata Cummings was such a valuable asset to her team this season. Cummings won 131 draws outright and 75 other times a teammate was able to gain control.
Cummings' efforts certainly didn't go unnoticed. She was named the Division II player of the year and earned first-team Division II honors.
Cummings was also named an Academic All-American by U.S. Lacrosse based on her grade point average and her contributions to the team and the community.
She was the only D-II player to receive the honor.
"She was just phenomenal," Westerly coach Meg Paisley said. "She just has a great sense of the game and she's completely selfless. Plus, she didn't get a single yellow card all season. And she had opportunities because she was involved in attack, defense and midfield."
And the draws?
"She has the ability to adjust based on what the other player is doing," Paisley said. "She has the ability to read what they are doing. She was responsible for winning most of those draws. And other times she would pop it up and somebody else would come up with the ball."
Cummings, who will play at the Coast Guard Academy next season, finished the year with 37 goals and 14 assists. She completed her career with a school-record 54 assists and was No. 3 on the scoring list with 149 goals.
Fellow senior Lauren Dobson joined Cummings on the Division II first team.
Dobson led the team with 46 goals this season. She finished her career with 172 goals and 47 assists. The 172 goals put her second on the school's all-time list, trailing only Emily Sullivan's 179. She is second on the assist list behind Cummings with 47.
"Lauren is just a phenomenal athlete," Paisley said. "She gives 110 percent with whatever she is doing, even in practice. She has such great energy on the field.
"She was Kata's go-to person. She catches everything and has the ability to beat the defense when she is on attack."
Junior Ashley Amato earned second-team Division II honors after scoring 32 goals with seven assists. Amato is "super sneaky" with her ability to find openings near the goal, Paisley said.
Senior Macie Woycik received Division II honorable mention recognition. Woycik moved from the midfield to defense.
If a team had a strong scorer, Woycik was assigned the task of faceguarding her. Paisley said the task is difficult because it can be tiring mentally and physically. She said Woycik was up to the challenge.
Freshman Carly Chretien was named to the All-Rookie team. Chretien scored 24 goals to go with 12 assists. Chretien has strong stick skills and the ability to take it to the goal, Paisley said.
Westerly finished 12-2, losing to Middletown in the D-II title game. The previous two seasons Westerly finished runner-up in Division III.
Paisley was named the Division II coach of the year by her peers.
"It means a lot. I have a great assistant coach in Nicole Giguere," Paisley said. "And I have a great group of girls. Since they started the WAYL (Westerly Area Youth Lacrosse) program, we can just build on that."
Paisley said how the team plays is what's most important.
"We wanted to win games, but I am more concerned about them meshing and realizing they are playing for each other," Paisley said. "It doesn't matter who scores the goals. What matters is that we are all working for that one goal."
Cummings, Dobson, Woycik, Olivia Chiaradio, Hedy Goodman and Abby White were named to the All-Academic team.