08 June 2014

Girls Lacrosse: A season to savor

Rachael Welzin 33 goals, 20 assists (photo by Jim Lindquist)
A 14-win season. A top-five state ranking. A Missota Conference championship. A 13-game winning streak and a first-ever trip to the section finals. By any measurement, the 2014 Tiger girls' lacrosse season was one to remember.

"This was such a fun year," coach Dan Pickens said. "Things are always more fun when you are winning, but I am convinced that this group would have enjoyed the season regardless. We had some learning to do at the beginning, but once we really got going we were fun to watch.

"With the dynamics of our team having 13 seniors and 13 freshman we had to work a bit to gel.  I saw the girls grow so much as a team...The season was not without its challenges, but overall, things went about as well as they could."

To show the diversity of the 2014 Tigers, 13 of the 25 players receiving varsity letters at the post-season banquet were seniors and two were juniors. The remaining 10 were either eighth or ninth graders.

Defensive leader Shaye Jenrich (No. 3) (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Senior letterwinners included Shaye Jenrich, Kylee Glen, Lindsay Benson, Mikalaya Todd, Brooke Raske, Breanna Raske, Rachael Welzin. Kaitlyn Lacroix, Delaney Johnson, Kaeli Halverson, Kelly Kornmann, Bria Donnelly and Maddie Kohlbeck.

Underclassmen receiving letters included juniors Shelby Klotz and Becky Genzler; freshmen  Dani Wright, Ali Saby, Kamryn Corraro, Ashley Steffes, Amanda Davenport, Ashley Hessler and Alexis Stanley and eighth-graders Lexi Laube, Christine Steffes and Emma Kohlbeck.

 A record four players earned all-state recognition, including goalkeeper Maddie Kohlbeck (4.45 goals against average), Rachael Welzin (33 goals 20 assists), Klotz (47 goals) and defensive standout Shaye Jenrich.

Goalie of the Year finalist Maddie Kohlbeck (photo by J. Lindquist)
Kohlbeck, Welzin, Klotz and Ashley Steffes all made the all-Missota Conference team. Genzler and Jenrich received all-league honorable mention.

Kohlbeck is one of two finalists for the yet-to-be announced state Goalie of the Year Award.

When asked to point to the major highlights of the season, Pickens started to rattle off some examples like outscoring the opposition by a head-scratching 178-60 before finally settling on two that best described the memorable run.

"Basically, it came down to breaking every record in our book, having fun and enjoying our time together," he said.

Pickens said there was but one regret in the season jut completed, failure to get by Lakeville South in the section title game and landing the program's fist-ever berth in the state tournament.

Even though the strong senior class will be absent when practice starts next spring, Pickens says he is confident that winning lacrosse is here to stay for Farmington.

"We'll have a lot of younger players returning and we also have an excelling youth program to keep feeding us," he said. " Farmington is going to be a prominent force for a while now, and I am excited to be a part of it."

As for the move to the South Suburban Conference next year, Pickens said he is excited about the prospect.

Shelby Klotz scored a team-high 47 goals (photo by Jim Lindquist)
"The Missota was nice to have this year but we are a much better fit in the South Suburban," he said. "It will be nice to play some more competition throughout the season so we are better prepared for section and other post-season games."

Pickens said that players improving their skills over the off-season will continue to be a factor in his program's trend upward.

"Lacrosse is becoming more of a girls' main sport and that is a good thing for the program," he said. "Coaches also need to continue to learn and bring that expertise to the team.  A culture has been set and we need to continue to build leadership capacity within the program so that our success continues.

"Success is much more than the overall record. It is about how well everyone gets along, fun that is had and what lessons were learned. Usually when those things happen, a good record follows."