In seventh grade, Madison Pohle gave up soccer, the sport she’d played since she was 4 years old. Her mom, Tamara, suggested that Madison give lacrosse a try and recommended that she go watch the 2005 high school state championship game between the Chaparral Firebirds and the Horizon Huskies.
Chaparral won the state title that evening, and won over Madison Pohle. Five years later, she is one of best lacrosse players in Arizona. She has accepted a scholarship to play college lacrosse at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.
Madison will be the first player from Coach Jessica Livingston’s Chaparral program to play college lacrosse at the Division I level, and is only the second girl from Arizona to do so.
So what did Madison see that evening in 2005 at the state lacrosse finals?
“It was a higher scoring game than soccer with a much quicker pace,” she says. “That is what I fell in love with.”
After Madison watched the state title game, her mom enrolled her in a Desert StiX summer clinic run by Livingston.
“Madison was one of only five girls who showed up for that clinic at Mountain View Park,” Livingston says. “But you can tell when you have an athlete. Soccer players can see the field well and understand spacing.”
The next spring, Madison was playing on the Chaparral Junior Varsity team as an eighth grader. Two years later, when she was just a sophomore, she was a varsity team captain.
“Madison is the most reliable player out there,” Livingston says. “She is consistent. She started out as a quiet player and now she is a leader.“
In addition to playing on her high school team, Madison played the last three years for Southwest Heat, an all-star team of Arizona players coached by Livingston, and for the past two summers on XTeam, a national club team that participated in major recruiting tournaments in Maryland, such as Rivalry and National Draw. Madison learned about XTeam from a Southwest Heat teammate Caitlyn O’Brien, who at the time was also playing for Desert Mountain High School. O’Brien is now a freshman at George Washington, where this spring she will be the first Arizona high school lacrosse player to play at the Division I level.
While athletic skill and desire are the major components of earning a college athletic scholarship, Livingston points out that girls lacrosse players have numbers on their side as well. “Think about how many girls play soccer, basketball and softball,” Livingston says. “There are just as many scholarships available for lacrosse as for those other sports, but far fewer lacrosse players.”
When asked about skills she picked up playing in national tournaments the past three summers, Madison answered, “Communication. I learned how to be loud and direct with your teammates.”
Livingston concurs. “We have spent a lot of time the past few years working on communicating on the defensive side of the field,” she says. “Madison has improved our communication on the offensive side of the field. She has improved her skill at opening up space for teammates on offense.”
In addition to playing lacrosse, Madison has been coaching youth players in the Desert StiX program since she was in ninth grade. Today, she coaches girls in sixth through ninth grades in the Desert StiX program and officiates games as well.
Chaparral opened its season on Tuesday with a 19-1 win over Desert Mountain. Madison had one goal and two assists; her younger sister Makenna, a junior, had four goals and one assist. Tough tests await the Firebirds in the next two games on their schedule when they play at Horizon High School at 8pm this Thursday night, Feb. 25, and then play the defending state champion Pinnacle Pioneers at 4:45pm Monday, March 1, at Mountain View Park in Scottsdale.
One date for which I am sure Madison needs no reminder is Friday, April 30. The high school state championship game will be played that night. Do not be surprised if Madison is on the field that night with her Firebird teammates — or if there is another seventh grade girl in the stands watching her first lacrosse game and falling in love.
For more information about all levels of girls lacrosse in Arizona, visit Arizona Girls Lacrosse. To follow high school girls lacrosse, visit the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association. On March 13, Coach Livingston will conduct a free lacrosse clinic for K-9 girls from 10 a.m. to noon on the south fields of Cochise Elementary School in Scottsdale.
— Dan Barr