They’re the best team in the league and it’s even taken the coach by surprise.
Several players have been out because of injury. Most of the team is young and even the goalie is new. Yet, here they are, on top of the region with only two weeks remaining before the playoffs.
The Oasis Academy girls lacrosse team sits alone in first place after knocking off Douglas, 14-6, this week. The Bighorns, who sit at 10-1 in the High Sierra Lacrosse League, have three more games left before the HSLL tournament. The winner advances to the state tournament in Las Vegas.
“We anticipated being one of the top-four seeds,” Oasis Academy coach Lisa Swan said. “We were thinking we would be on top of that if we would beat Galena.”
Arguably the best win in the program’s short history, Oasis Academy upset the Grizzlies, 8-7, last month in Fallon. Galena’s been a regular in the state tournament and won the title recently.
With a young team — Oasis has eight freshmen, five sophomores and three eighth-graders, and only four upperclassmen — and several on the sideline with injuries, the key this season has been the defense. Swan said assistant coach Scott Swan was brought on this year and the improvement has been remarkable. In 16 games last season, Oasis Academy allowed 155 goals whereas in the 11 games this year, the defense has allowed only 63 goals.
“Defense wins games and that is where we were lacking last year,” Swan said. “He has worked really hard with the defense and our goalie to outperform other teams.”
Offensively, it hasn’t been just one player wreaking havoc on the opposition.
Brooklynn Whitaker, Sadie O’Flaherty and Maiya Swan have led the offensive surge, which has the Bighorns ranked first in the league in goals scored with 148. O’Flahetery leads the team in goals scored and total points, averaging 3.73 goals and 4.18 points per game. Whitaker comes in at 3.27 goals and 3.91 points per game, while Swan ranks third on the team with 3.18 goals and 3.82 points per game.
“Sadie and Maiya are a dominating force on offense as they feed passes or cut to score and then get back on defense to double-team and limit scoring on us,” Swan said.
Kate Dunkin, the team’s goalie in her first year in the position, has been consistent on defense and improved throughout the season.
“She has proven to be quick on her feet, and she is mentally and physically tough with a focused intensity,” Swan said.
But Swan is the first to admit that the team’s success this year is a result of every player who plays an important role. For Oasis Academy to not only grab the No. 1 seed but advance to state next month, Swan said her girls will need to stay healthy and continue to improve and play a complete game.
“We need to continue to improve as a team with our passing, catching and ground balls,” Swan said. “We need to continue to have great teamwork and definitely not be a second-half team. We need to give 110 percent for both halves.”
The Bighorns, which rank No. 1 in the state and ahead of Bishop Gorman, have given the community another team to root for this spring as they aim for the school’s first regional and state championships. Oasis Academy next competes on Wednesday against Truckee and then travels to Truckee the day after. The Bighorns close the regular season on May 11 against Spanish Springs.
“The success of this, and any Oasis program, is a huge boost to our school spirit and a sense of community,” Swan said. “It also brings legitimacy to our extracurricular programs and mission of creating well-rounded citizens.”