Category Archives: lacrosse

Early bird registration for Desert StiX program through Dec 31

The Desert StiX girls lacrosse program starts a new six-week session on Saturday, Jan. 7 for girls in grades K-9, beginner to advanced, who may be interested in learning and playing the “fastest game on feet.”  All sessions will take place at Cochise Elementary School, Mountain View Park, 9451 N. 84th St. in Scottsdale.

Each session entails drills, scrimmages, and fun learning games. The purpose of Desert StiX is to prepare girls with the fundamental skills they need to advance in the sport of lacrosse. Girls are frequently divided by skill levels to help them grow and advance over time.

Early Bird registration fees, in effect through this Saturday, Dec. 31, are as follows for each age group:

Pixi StiX (grades K-2): $85 for one Saturday session each week.

Junior StiX (grades 3-5): $145 for two sessions each week, including Saturdays.

Chop StiX (grades 6-9): $165 for two sessions each week, including Saturdays.

After Dec. 31, registration prices will increase $25 for each group.

To take advantage of the Early Bird registration fees, register here.

The joy of the first time

Kenzie Williams, a first grader from Gilbert, learns how to cradle a ball at last Saturday's free AGLA lacrosse clinic in Scottsdale. Photo by Steve O'Day

“I love seeing someone pick up a lacrosse stick for the first time and love playing. It never gets old for me.” — Jessica Livingston of AZ Girls Lacrosse, a league for girls in grades K-9.

The above photo was taken at last Saturday’s free AGLA clinic at Copper Ridge School in North Scottsdale, which was attended by about 50 girls.  The next clinic will be on December 17 at a yet to be determined location.

AZ Girls Lacrosse announces summer ball

Your daughter can keep her stick skills sharp over the coming off-season, as AZ Girls Lacrosse, or AZGL, is announcing a new summer league.

Summer Ball begins on July 7 and runs through August 4, with leagues for under-15, under-16 (rising seniors) and 2011 high schools grads/post-collegiate players. The format of the league is similar to AZGL’s Fall Ball — teams will play a game a week with no practices. Game times are at night to beat the heat, and play will be at the brand new Salt River Fields facilities at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. Here’s some more information from the website:

• Cost: $85 (includes jersey)

• Where: Salt River Fields

• When: Every Thursday July 7- Aug. 4

• How to register: There are two registrations depending on your child’s age. If your daughter is in fifth through 12th grades or just graduated high school, you register here. If your daughter graduated high school in 2010, is in college currently, or post-collegiate, she will register here. There are only a limited number of spots available so it will be first come, first serve.

Game Times

U15 and Younger 7:30-9pm

U16 – Rising Seniors 8:30-10pm

High school grads-post-collegiate 8:30-10pm

Sign up before June 30th to reserve a spot and grab the best deal. — Robert T. Balint

Five questions for All-American Pierce Bassett

Bassett in 2008, warming up before the state championship game against Chaparral High School.

By Robert T. Balint

Two weeks ago,  Pierce Bassett became the first Arizona-raised lacrosse player to be named to a Division I All American team.  Bassett, a 2009 graduate of Brophy College Prep and the current goalie for Johns Hopkins University, was named as the Second Team All American goalie by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association.

Bassett started all four years in goal for the Brophy Broncos. From 2006 through 2009,  Brophy made four straight state title appearances, winning it all in Bassett’s sophomore (2007) and junior (2008) years. A four-time All State selection, Bassett made the first team three times, and posted a sky-high .714 save percentage his senior year.

After graduation, Bassett headed to Baltimore to attend Johns Hopkins University, a traditional national lacrosse powerhouse. In his first year, he became the fifth freshman to start in goal for the Blue Jays since freshmen were made eligible to play in 1972. As Hopkins plays against the elites of the sports— Virginia, Duke, Maryland, etc.—he endured a trial by fire against the nation’s top scorers.

Bassett today.

This past season, Bassett became one of the team leaders and helped the Jays to a 13-3 record and a #3 national ranking. In the NCAA tournament, Hopkins recorded a 12-5 win over Hofstra before being knocked out in the quarterfinals 14-9 by Denver. His 146 saves and .570 save percentage earned him a spot on the All American team. An old friend of mine, Pierce spoke to me over the phone earlier this week about his beginnings in lacrosse, the season and where things go from here.

You started playing lacrosse in sixth grade. When did you know you had found your calling?

I first started playing for St. Theresa Broncos in sixth grade I started playing goalie, and I liked it. I remember they needed a backup goalie, and I played soccer goalie and a catcher, so I thought, “Hey, I’ll give it a shot.” One of the big things I liked when I started playing was frustrating the shooters and the offense. That’s what clicked with me. It was enjoyable.

I was horrible my first year of goalie. I think we won one game. The coaches in middle school took a lot of shots on me and worked with me. Getting into freshman year, I wanted to play varsity, and I had an opportunity to try out and make the team.

You split 2-2 with Chaparral for state championships. What was that rivalry like?

I think the Chaparral-Brophy lacrosse rivalry is one of the best, at least in Arizona lacrosse. In the regular season (in 2006), we got smoked 11-2, and then lost in the finals 5-3. In my first years, nobody beat Chaparral—they were good, they deserved it. Every time you play them, it was a battle. There was a lot of emotion. It was one of the bigger games in the league. I know a lot of those guys, so it was a fun rivalry going.

Sophomore year (2007), it was our first-ever championship. It was one of the best feelings of my life, to win the first championship for the program. I couldn’t have been happier, for the seniors and for the team in general.

And then in 2008, we pulled out a nail biter against Chaparral, at Chaparral. We didn’t play as well as we wanted, but we still got that win.

Tell me about playing in the NCAA tournament, and the pressure that comes along with it.

It’s the NCAA tournament. You dream of playing in it when you’re a kid. This year, in that first game against Hofstra, I thought, “It doesn’t matter if it’s the NCAA tournament; it’s just another home game.” Just play your game, and don’t worry about where it is or what’s on the line. It was a great experience; hopefully we can improve on it. I think everyone’s really excited to get back to school.

How does it feel to be an All-American?

We had the All-American banquet the Sunday before Memorial Day. An absolutely terrific honor to be included with some really great goalies this year. I’m humbled to see an award like that. It’s not just you out there; you have a defense. I’ve been blessed to have a terrific defensive end that doesn’t get much credit as I think they should.

What are you going to focus on during this off-season?

One of the big things is being a leader. Being a junior, you come into a leadership role. I have to work on that. Other than that, I’m looking to improve my athleticism, my endurance, and take a look back at some of the games and the mistakes I made. Take as many shots as I can back home, get myself prepared.

We’ll have 12 juniors this year, and we had seven or eight of us playing. Another good senior class. I think we’ve got some great guys who can do great things.

Robert Balint (left) and Pierce Bassett at their 2009 graduation from Brophy College Prep.


Girls lacrosse team selected for Women’s Division National Tournament

One of the selections to the WDNT team, Sophie Bucknell of Xavier Prep.

Twenty girls from nine high school lacrosse teams have been named to the Southwest Regional Team that will play in the Women’s Division National Tournament at Stony Brook University in New York during Memorial Day Weekend.  The team, which will play in the Schoolgirls’ Division for grades 9-11, was selected after a full day of tryouts on March 25.  The Women’s Division National Tournament, which began in 1933, is one the oldest and most prestigious women’s lacrosse events in the nation.  The head coach for the WDNT team will be Bean Callen of Xavier Prep.  The assistant coach will be Adrianne Wagner of Phoenix Country Day School.  Of the 20 girls selected, five are from Pinnacle High School, four from Chaparral and three each Corona del Sol and Desert Mountain.

Here are 20 girls names to the 2011 WNDT team:

Vanessa Fernandez, junior, Notre Dame, Attack
Sara Phister, sophomore, Mountain Pointe, Attack
Larissa Breguez, junior, Pinnacle, Midfield
Scarlett Sulliman, sophomore, Chaparral, Midfield
Alex Chamberlain, sophomore, Pinnacle, Attack
Miranda Ross, junior, Corona del Sol, Goalie
Erika Bradley, junior, Horizon, Midfield
Rachelle Mariner, junior, Gilbert, Midfield
Madison Roble, freshman, Pinnacle, Attack
Abby Dierks, junior, Pinnacle, Midfield
Kate Pederson, sophomore, Chaparral, Attack
Kaci Rood, sophomore, Desert Mountain, Midfield
Brittany Brewster, sophomore, Chaparral, Defense
Elise Anaya, junior, Chaparral, Defense
Caitlyn O’Grady, sophomore, Corona del Sol, Attack
Holly Berns, sophomore, Corona del Sol, Midfield
Elena Cuomo, junior, Desert Mountain, Defense
Elizabeth Fishman, junior, Chaparral, Midfield
Sophie Bucknell, junior, Xavier, Attack
Natalie Schellbach, junior, Pinnacle, Midfield

There were four alternates selected as well:

Nadine Bashir, sophomore, Pinnacle, Midfield
Tori Hawk, sophomore, Horizon, Goalie
Jessie Lowy, junior, Chaparral, Midfield
Megan McGuire, sophomore, Corona del Sol, Midfield

Goalie Miranda Ross of Corona del Sol High School.

Former Brophy lacrosse star plays first game for Johns Hopkins

Pierce Bassett warming up for the spring 2008 high school state championship lacrosse game.

Two years ago, we interviewed then-Brophy College Preparatory goalie Pierce Bassett in a video that was shot shortly before the state championship game.

On Saturday, Pierce, now a freshman at Johns Hopkins University, played his first college game against the top ranked University of Virginia. The game was broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

Pierce played the last 19 minutes of the game, which Virginia won 15-6. While the outcome may not have been to Pierce’s liking, he has a promising college career ahead of him at one of the nation’s premier college lacrosse programs.

How big a deal is it that Pierce is playing for Johns Hopkins?  Chandler High School lacrosse coach Dave Henning put it best when he said, “Seriously … goalie at Hopkins. That is a special place in the lacrosse world. It’s like being quarterback at Notre Dame. And it couldn’t happen to a better kid.” — Dan

Chaparral senior is bound for Division I college lacrosse

Madison Pohle (right) with her coach, Jessica Livingston.

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.

Madsion playing for the Southwest Heat at the 2009 Woman's Division National Tournament.

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.”

At the 2009 WDNT event.

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