flocking to lacrosse | NevadaAppeal.com

flocking to lacrosse

Steve Puterski
sputerski@lahontanvalleynews.com

The sport is growing so fast it even reaches into the Governor's Mansion.

On Saturday, the Oasis Bighorns under-13/15 girls lacrosse team made history with its first-ever game in Fallon.

Unfortunately for the home team, though, the Reno WildFires held on for a 5-4 win at the Churchill County Regional Park.

The Bighorns fell down 2-0 early in the first half, but tied the game at 2 on goals by Taryn Barrenchea and Madi Whitaker. Reno, though, was able to slip one past goalkeeper, Shaylee Fagg, in the waning seconds of the half to take a 3-2 lead.

The WildFires picked up steam to open second half with three consecutive goals. Oasis, though, rallied behind the continuous pressure from Sadie O'Flaherty, Alanna Muir and Maiya Swan.

Maiya Swan trimmed Reno's lead to 5-3 and Muir tallied her first goal of the game after a penalty against Reno to slice the lead to 5-4. Fagg added a pair of saves to preserve the one-goal deficit.

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Oasis' last-chance effort, though, was thwarted as the WildFires held on for the win. Both teams are 1-1.

The team returns to the field on Saturday at the regional park.

Starting new

Oasis is in its third year of lacrosse, growing steadily each year under John Keitz, the program's founder.

With two boy's teams, and the coupled with the rising popularity, a girls squad was added this year. The reaction has been stellar as the Oasis girls team has swelled up to 25 athletes as two late additions came this week.

"They've been thrilled," Keitz said. "It seemed like every practice we added a player. Lisa (Swan) is really amazing and took everything over. With Margaret (St. Andre) there, who has played, has had a huge impact on the players."

Between the boys and girls, nearly 70 athletes — from both Oasis and the Churchill County School District — are suiting up to play lacrosse.

On the field, though, the WildFires are the Bighorns' only opponent this season. All of Reno and Sparks could not field more than one team, while Oasis is growing like a wild fire.

A strong word-of-mouth campaign and the excitement of the sport has the girls hooked.

Because the two teams don't have enough players for separate U13 and U15 team, they play as one and range from 11 to 15 years old.

"We recruited girls and … have 25 girls," said Swan, the first-year head coach. "I hit up girls who hadn't played sports and who have. My thing was for girls who hadn't play sports was, it's brand new, nobody's done it, so give it a try."

Many of the girls saw their classmates at Oasis playing wall-ball during recess and were lured in. Others needed more convincing, but once they picked up a stick and learned a few basics, the desire to continue only grew.

Muir and Maiya Swan both found lacrosse in the same manner.

"I joined because I was watching college lacrosse and thought it was pretty awesome," Muir said. "I started watching the (Bighorns) boys and thought it was pretty intense. I started practicing with the boys and thought it was pretty cool."

"Having people come to watch our games is nice," Swan added. "(We are) Starting something new for Fallon."

Growing pains

Lisa Swan and her assistant coach, St. Andre, went through the necessary certifications to coach and now are building the foundation to grow the program.

Keitz, though, said the key is to grow responsibly as the program aims to add a U11 club and a high school team in the coming years.

The reception, however, has been great Swan and Keitz said, while the exposure is growing.

As the season progresses, though, the girls league is working through growing pains. Differences in philosophies toward the aggressive and physical play forced several rule changes after the first game.

Swan and St. Andre, though, keep an open dialogue with the Reno coaches in hopes of allowing more physical play and stick checking so defensive techniques can be cultivated.

"We all meet on Sundays to discuss the games," Swan said. "They (the Reno coaches) felt the Fallon girls were a little too aggressive."

On Saturday, the defense was limited to shadowing the offensive players. Nevertheless, Swan said the squad was pumped up for the first-ever home game.

"They would've much rather had a win, but everyone is leaving happy," Swan said. "That's what it's all about. Once they get to high school, then we can be a little more competitive."

Despite the rules hiccups, Oasis and Reno depend on each for the girls league to survive. Reno has a U11 team, which the Bighorns want to include next season, but also growing into the high school level.

"The Reno coach went out and recruited girls," Swan said.

Reno, though, is compiled of 16 athletes from South Reno and 11 from North Reno and Spanish Springs including Gov. Brian Sandoval's daughter.

"Our hopes are to continue to build up this league with possibly adding a U9/U11 league next year so Reno has someone to play and/or separate our combined league of U13/U15 girls," Swan said. "In order to do so, that takes coaches."

The High Sierra Lacrosse League provides training for coaching certification, while at least one Reno coach holds several clinics each year.

Oasis, though, adds a fall-ball camp for six weeks for $25 to build fundamentals and gives coaches another opportunity to build on their skills.

Boys continue to roll

The U15 Oasis team blew past the North Reno Outlaws, 10-4, on Saturday to improve to 3-0 on the season.

The Bighorns were led by Tristan Rodarte and Trey Rooks, who each scored two goals, while Josh Carter, Donovan Fermaint, Anthony Lombardo, Lusi Orozco, Trent Thorn, Nick Delgado each scored once.

The U15 squad also earned a 7-6 win over Mount Rose on Thursday in Reno. Delgado scored the go-ahead goal, while Anthony Delgado netted the game-winner about 2 minutes left.

As for the U13 team, the Bighorns lost 11-3 to the Outlaws and 10-0 to Mount Rose.

The boys return to action on Thursday when Oasis hosts Spanish Springs at 5 p.m. (U13) and 6 p.m. (U15). On Saturday, the boys host Truckee at 10 a.m. and noon.

Notes: Rooks, Nick Delgado, Rodarte and goalie Brendan Leary were selected to the High Sierra Lacrosse League all-star team and will compete in three tournaments this summer in California.

About girls lacrosse

For information about coaching or registration, contact Oasis Bighorns coach Lisa Swan by email at lisagalloswan@yahoo.com.

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