SUDBURY — Bowen Holden never expected to go back.
After graduating from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional in 1997, she was off to play collegiate lacrosse, with plans to attend medical school and become a pediatrician. But after a coach at her alma mater, Georgetown, called on her for a quick foray into the coaching world shortly after graduation, those plans changed quickly.
“About a month in,” Holden said, “I knew I wasn’t going to medical school anymore.”
It’s been a winding road since — after Georgetown, Holden led the Boston College women for seven years through the 2012 season, and coached the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School girls’ squad last spring — but lacrosse has brought her back to where it all began.
Two decades after her freshman year at Lincoln-Sudbury, Holden is in her first year coaching the Warrior girls’ lacrosse team.
“I love being here,” Holden said. “I love being back at the school that means so much to me, and I feel like I can express that passion because it’s authentic and it’s true.
“I’ve always been very proud of being an L-S graduate. This place has always meant a lot to me. . . I just think it’s come to the surface now because there is reason for me to be showing it and expressing it.”
If on the first day of practice Holden did not recognize the place, it would be hard to blame her. Since her senior year, the district constructed a new building — on top of the old lacrosse field, coincidentally — and now the Warriors play on an artificial surface at the foot of the hill on which the school stands. Even the uniforms are different.
But what matters most — playing the game — is the same. And Holden, with more than a decade of experience in the college coaching ranks, can work with that, especially given the base of talent on the Warriors team.
“They pick things up like I’ve never seen a team pick things up,” Holden said. The team’s previous coach, Debbie DeJesus, she added, “did a very good job of instilling the fundamentals in all of them. And they’re just grabbing things and running with it. It’s been pretty impressive.”
The athletes, for their part, have taken note of the new tactics Holden brings. There are different offensive sets, at least one shooting drill that Holden adapted from the U-19 US national team, for which she is an assistant coach, and even a small dose of sports psychology. Before practices, the Warriors engage in a visualization session in which they stand in a circle, close their eyes, and wipe their minds clean to focus only on lacrosse.
“We do a lot of circles this year,” said senior captain Meg Cahill with a smile and a quick look at her classmates and cocaptains, Eliza Guild and Caitlin Hullinger . “As a family, as a team.”
It has worked. Holden’s Warriors were 4-0 heading into their toughest test yet — and maybe of the season — Wednesday against Notre Dame Academy, the defending Division 1 state champs from Hingham.
Acton-Boxborough Regional is one of the teams that fell victim to the Warriors, and Colonials coach Scott Biron was left impressed with their ability to keep possession of the ball for extended periods of time. The team does not necessarily have as much raw talent as they have in past years, he said, but Holden has done well in terms of utilizing her players.
“In high school your biggest challenge is to put the kids in the right places,” Biron said. “It’s hard your first year, when you basically have no preseason.”
It does not hurt that Holden’s players are well aware of her credentials, from Division 1 collegiate coach to former high school All-American, when she occupied the cage for Warrior teams that consistently qualified for the state tournament.
There is even talk of a possible alumni game in which today’s Warriors hope they might get to see remnants of the latter on display. “She never really hops in and does the running drills,” Hullinger said. “But every once in a while she’ll pop in with her stick and we’re like, ‘Alright!’ ”
Guild is far and away the team’s statistical leader; she is tops in points (26, on 21 goals and five assists) and draws (14). But if this team wants to go anywhere — beyond last year’s sectional quarterfinal loss, for example — they know it will take a little more than that.
“I think passion, a willingness, a desire to just win and figure out a way to win,” Holden said. “I think there is sacrifice, willingness to sacrifice.
“The big thing with me that I want to see out of my teams is a real show of grit, toughness. And I’ve always felt like that’s something I prided myself on, and I certainly want to see that out of my teams. These guys are showing some of that.”
Wayland boys back to form
The Wayland High boys did not start their season quite how they planned: Two straight losses.
But since the second setback, an 11-10 overtime decision against Framingham on April 5, the Warriors have garnered a bit of momentum in the form of three straight wins, recapturing some of the form that pushed them to a 17-3 regular season last year.
Coach Joel Bates pegged Michael Connell as one of the upstart underclassmen in the early going. The defensive midfielder, playing with the varsity as a sophomore, has proven reliable on ground balls and crucial in the team’s transition offense.
Junior Cooper Archambault , according to Bates, has been the team’s top overall offensive player. He is typically good for a couple of goals per game, numbers similar to those of captain Roby Williams .
Williams, a second-team All-American last spring, got off to a slow start by his standards, however.
“He’ll come around. He’s always going,” Bates said of Williams. “He’s trying to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s maybe trying to do too much, but still putting in a few goals per game. He’ll always be a tough kid for other teams to alienate from our offense.”Tim Healey can be reached at timothy.healey@ globe.com.