Jueschke relishes playing both ways for Lightning

Grand Valley’s Morgan Jueschke gets her running in playing center for the Lightning, which is off to a 5-0 start. The center is the only player in lacrosse who can play both offense and defense. Another key role of the center is the winning the draw, an area in which Jueschke is improving.

Grand Valley girls lacrosse player Morgan Jueschke does it all.

The Grand Junction High School senior plays center for the Lightning, and her job is to play both offense and defense. Most positions in lacrosse are either strictly offense or defense, and players cannot cross a certain point on the field. The exception is the center.

“The center can run all over the field, she is offense and defense,” Grand Valley coach Robin Stevens said. “She can go anywhere, so you have to have someone with great all-around speed and great all-around skills.”

Jueschke is in her second year of lacrosse and gravitated toward the center position because of the lengthy description of the position. The center is in charge of the draw (face off) and can both attack the goal and guard the other team’s center on defense.

“There is only one of you and that is what is unique about it,” Jueschke said. “It gives you the opportunity to (be) team leader.”

The draw is important to gain offensive advantage. After every goal and at the beginning of the game the two centers lock crosses and the ball is placed between them.

The goal is to overpower the other center and get the ball out to one of the attack wings.

“If you have a real strong center, she can let her players know which way the ball will be going,” Stevens said. “It is something (Jueschke) still has to work on, as a lot of the draws go straight up or
it is kind of luck, but she is going a great job getting the ball up.”

After the draw is when the real work begins for the center.

In a sport with quick transitions from offense to defense, the center is required to follow the ball, which means almost constant running, something that took Jueschke some getting used to.

“At first it was like, I don’t know if I want to be running this much,” Jueschke said with a laugh. “But it gets better every game and it is where I feel comfortable to play.”

Jueschke gets some help from Katie Hiel, who also plays center for the Lightning. Although
Jueschke is Grand Valley’s main center, Stevens said Hiel has tremendous speed and great control of the ball. With two strong players rotating, Jueschke said it is important to communicate with Hiel.

“We switch off a lot, which is so helpful,” Jueschke said. “But it takes a lot of communication between us to make sure we are marking the same person.”

Although Jueschke and Hiel are continuing to improve as lacrosse players, their natural abilities have helped the Lightning open the season 5-0.

Grand Valley’s game today at Glenwood Springs has been rescheduled for next month, so the Lightning is off until April 4.

“We have had a lot of the girls come in that are aggressive,” Stevens said. “I have some girls who are just some great athletes, and in any sport with that, you can succeed.”


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