Tag 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.


Arizona team finishes third in its divison at national girls lacrosse tournament

The Southwest Region team at the Women's Division National Tournament in Stony Brook, N.Y. this past weekend.

An Arizona all star girls lacrosse team finished third in its division this past weekend at the Women’s Division National Tournament at Stony Brook, N.Y.   The team of 20 girls from nine local high school teams comprised the Southwest Region team and finished third out of 10 teams in the Iroquois division, with wins over Missouri and Orlando/Gulf Coast on Saturday and an 18-5 shellacking of Oregon in the third palace game on Sunday.  The Arizonans lost their early morning games on Saturday and Sunday to New Hampshire/Vermont and Georgia, respectively.

“We had rocky morning games both Saturday and Sunday, but we pulled through and came out third in our division,” said Southwest Region head coach Bean Callen, who also coaches at Xavier College Prep. “The girls clicked extremely well, having played together just twice before coming to Long Island for the WDNT tournament. After our first loss to New Hampshire/Vermont, the team really came together and the chemistry prevailed. They made one another look good on the field and the camaraderie among each and every player was amazing. Crisp passes, beautiful goals and strong defense were seen on the field. And lots of laughter encompassed not just the players, but the coaches and parent chaperones as well!”

In addition to playing five games against some of the country’s best talent, the Arizona girls were able attend both NCAA Final Four lacrosse games on Friday featuring Maryland vs. Duke and North Carolina vs. Northwestern. On Saturday, they watched the U19 USA team beat Canada 21-7.

The Arizona team was one of 60 teams from 30 states that took part in the WDNT tournament, which is the oldest girls lacrosse tournament in the country, dating back to 1933.  This year’s tournament featured more than 1,200 of the top high school girls lacrosse players in the country.   — Dan Barr

Chaparral girls win state lacrosse title

The state champion Chaparral Firebirds.

The Chaparral Firebirds won their second straight state lacrosse championship Friday night, prevailing 14-13 in overtime over the previously top-ranked Horizon Huskies. For the girls who played and the overflow crowd at the Reach 11 sports complex who watched, it was a game they will vividly remember the rest of their lives.

While one would expect a great game between the state’s highest scoring teams that featured six of the top seven goal scorers in Arizona, what  transpired exceeded those expectations. It was simply a game where every ground ball, every pass and indeed every square foot of the field was contested by both teams. After Horizon opened the scoring in the first minute, the score was tied eight times over the course of the game.

The most dominant player on the field during the first half was Horizon midfielder Madison Kinzley, who won nine of the first 10 draws of the game.  Horizon also featured a stifling defense and explosive transition game. With the score 5-5, Chaparral scored two goals in the last 19 seconds of the first half. The second goal came after Chaparral senior Alexa Sarussi won the draw and subsequently picked up a loose ball in front of the Horizon goal and scored with six seconds left in the half. It would be the first of two last-second goals for Sarussi during the evening.

Chaparral captains Alexa Sarussi (l) and Makenna Pohle (r) with head coach Jessica Livingston and the state title trophy.

The second half opened with Chaparral scoring two goals in the first minute and 19 seconds, which meant that going back to the end of the first half, Chaparral had scored four goals in only a minute and 38 seconds. Most teams would have folded after getting such a swift four-goal punch to the mouth, but Horizon was not fazed. Indeed, over the next 11 minutes, Horizon answered with five straight goals to take a 10-9 lead. Chaparral’s Makenna Pohle responded with a goal only 10 seconds later to tie the game at 10 all.

With 12 minutes remaining in the second half and the game now tied, the contest transformed into something beyond a lacrosse game. Skill, speed, strength and strategy would no longer be enough for either team to win. The game had simply become a contest of the collective wills of each team, with neither team backing down an inch.

Chaparral scored the next two goals to take a 12-10 lead with 2:26 left. Again, a lesser team may have folded at that point, but Horizon kept coming and with 40 seconds left tied the game at 12-12.

At this point, many of the 400 or so fans were on their feet, pressed against the sidelines, excitedly shouting support for their teams and waiting to run onto the field the moment the game ended. It was everything a state championship game should be. As Horizon won possession of the ball for the game’s final seconds and looked for the winning goal, the crowd was transfixed.

Chaparral Goalie Katherine Marhnes, "K4," after the game.

With seven seconds left,  Horizon’s Maddie Chapman, the state’s leading goal scorer, suddenly broke free with the ball in front of Chaparral’s goal and had a point blank shot from no more than 10 feet away. The only person standing in Chapman’s way was Chaparral’s 4′ 11″ senior goalie, Katherine Marhnes. Known as “K4” to her teammates, because she was one of four Katherines on the team last year, Marhnes had never played lacrosse until last year, when the Chaparral JV team did not have a goalie and she decided to give it a try.

Now in a split second, with the state title on the line and the state’s most menacing scorer all alone in front of her, Marhnes stopped what appeared to be a certain goal and put the game into overtime.

In the overtime, which consists of two three-minute periods, followed by sudden death if necessary, Horizon scored first and Chaparral sophomore Scarlett Sulliman answered with a goal 13 seconds later to tie the score. Then, with only 16.6 seconds left in the second overtime period, Chaparral co-captain Alexa Sarussi scored the game winner on a penalty shot.

It would be cruel and unfair to say that Horizon lost the game. An extraordinarily talented and disciplined team, Horizon gave everything they had to give and were simply behind when time ran out. For both teams, the scoreboard simply did not reflect the character, poise and determination they displayed throughout the game. — Dan Barr

The sign and smiles say it all.

Tryouts for Team Arizona for the country’s largest women’s lacrosse event

Madeline Sarussi (center), a freshman at Chaparral High School, stretches before Saturday's tryout for the Women's Division National Tournament team.

“We are looking for athleticism, stick skills and attitude,” said Jessica Livingston as she and 10 other high school lacrosse coaches and officials watched about three dozen girls try out Saturday morning for up to 22 spots on an Arizona team that will compete at the Women’s Division National Tournament at Stony Brook University in New York on Memorial Day weekend.

Goalie Mandy Ross, a junior at Corona del Sol High School.

“The WDNT is more than 70 years old and is one of the largest women’s lacrosse events in the country,” said Livingston, the coach of Chaparral High School and the founder AZ Girls Lacrosse, a girls lacrosse youth league.  “A lot of college coaches will be there. It is a major recruiting event.”

The Arizona team will participate in the Schoolgirls’ Division, which covers grades 9-11.   This year, approximately 60 teams from all around the country will be placed into six divisions, which are further broken into pools. Each team will play a minimum of four games.

Chaparral sophomore Scarlett Sulliman.

Livingston said that even though she and many of the other coaches already know most of the girls who were trying out for the WDNT team, a player’s reputation and past performance do not matter to the selectors.  “That’s why attitude is so important,” Livingston said.  “We want girls who really want to be on this team.”  Saturday’s tryouts consisted of skill drills in the morning and scrimmaging in the afternoon.  “The scrimmaging is when you really see the girls in action,” Livingston said.

Selections to the Arizona WDNT team will be announced toward the end of the week of April 2.  For more information about girls lacrosse in Arizona, visit the websites of the Arizona Girls Lacrosse Association and AZ Girls Lacrosse.

Sophie Bucknell, a junior at Xavier Prep, awaits a pass.

Caitlin O'Grady, a Corona del Sol sophomore, stretches.

Girls from about a dozen local high school try out for the WDNT team.