Starting STRONG | NevadaAppeal.com

Starting STRONG

Adam Robertson
arobertson@lahontanvalleynews.com
Kate Dunkin, right, chases Sadie O'Flaherty, left, during a preseason practice play.
Adam Robertson / LVN |

Oasis Academy’s girls’ varsity lacrosse team is off to a great start with a record of 3-0 in its first season.

Since the season started, the team has played Douglas, Damonte Ranch and McQueen.

Oasis defeated McQueen 16-11 Tuesday.

On March 9, Oasis beat Damonte 18-4. Oasis had a slow start as they grew used to playing in a stadium for the first time; Coach Lisa Swan recalled the offense missed passes and lost ground balls. Damonte tried to take advantage of the home field but the Oasis defense shut them down.

Taryn Barrenchea started at the draw winning 75 percent. Brooklynn Whitaker made the first goal off an assist from Maiya Swan. The offense started to settle out, scoring and getting back on defense to dominate and end the first half, 10-2. In the second half Maiya Swan and Madi Whitaker took turns at the draw. Winning the draws and quick passes led to goals for Oasis. Midfielders, O’Flaherty, Maiya Swan and Madi Whitaker dodged Damonte’s defense to score another goal, ending the game, 18-4. Goalie Audrey Rasmussen had three saves and Madison Brennan made two.

The Big Horns crushed Douglas 13-4 on March 7. Coach Swan said the game opened with Maiya Swan pushing past the Douglas defense where Whitaker caught the pass and scored in the first 30 seconds. Swan recalled defensive plays by Kate Dunkin, Daizi Horton, Madelyn Mikulak and Janell Pike kept Douglas from scoring until the last 10 minutes of the first half, which closed 6-2.

The second half started with Sadie O’Flaherty taking the draw and scoring within the first 3 seconds of the game, setting the tone for the rest of the half. Douglas scored two goals on goalie Madison Brennan.

This is Oasis’s first year having a girls’ varsity lacrosse team. Coach Swan recalled they had a U-13/15 team the last few years, which could not compete on the varsity level. Last year, the coach said they only played at 50 percent since the team did not want to overwhelm the opposition.

“In order to build the program for other schools, we didn’t want to have any shutouts or discourage girls from playing,” Swan said. “No girls were allowed to make more than two goals, we had to basically play at 50 percent, and the refs last year said we were ready for high school.”

This year’s team is comprised of five high-school students, 10 eighth-graders and a seventh-grader. Swan said the team has much skill and experience. She recalled they won the competition the last two years and were undefeated last year.

“We’re nervous and excited,” she said of moving into varsity. “We’ve done so well, we’re just hoping to keep that up.”

Swan noted they had the skill to play varsity last year but the players were not old enough. They only had two ninth-graders try out for the team, so they played at the middle school level.

Lacrosse is known for being a fairly rough sport, but girls’ lacrosse is very different. Swan noted their stick is built differently and doesn’t allow the players to cradle the ball as in boys’ lacrosse.

“When you’re cradling and catching the ball, you have to treat it like an egg … if you catch it perpendicular, it’s just going to pop back out whereas with a boys’ net it’s much deeper,” she said. “Ours is based much more on skill — skill at the cradle and running that very fast pace down the field.”

Girls’ lacrosse is also much less physical; the field is larger and competition relies more on speed. Swan said the game is “like soccer and basketball combined, but you have a stick in your hand.”

Lacrosse is not a Nevada Interscholastic Athletics Association sport. As a result, Swan said middle-schoolers are able to play on the varsity team. She said they had to fill out a special application to have permission for their one seventh-grader to play.

The team also consists of Churchill County students and one home-school student.

Nevada lacrosse teams play in the High Sierra League Lacrosse. The league is aligned with the NIAA and the hope is for lacrosse to be sanctioned by NIAA in the next few years.

The girls’ lacrosse regular season goes until early-mid May. From there, the teams go to the regional playoffs at Bishop Manogue.

Coach Lisa Swan contributed to this article.