Taking the next step
Mesa women's lacrosse team hopes to be a contender this year
For the past three years, the Colorado Mesa women’s lacrosse team has struggled through the growing pains of being a young program.
This year, in their fourth season, the Mavericks believe they’re ready to move up a level and be contenders in the first year of the sport being sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
“When we first started out (the program), we had a lot of girls that didn’t know how to play (who) we got from other sports on campus,” senior Allie Henderson said. “This year, we’ve got the best recruiting class we’ve had so far. I think we’ll have the best season so far.
“I really want to be RMAC champion, but even if we get better. We’ve got lots of opportunities to excel. I feel like every practice is competition for a starting spot we’ve never had before.”
Henderson led the Mavericks with 36 goals and 17 assists last season. Henderson and Ashley Eickhoff, who was second for Mesa with 33 goals and 10 assists last year, were selected to the preseason All-RMAC team this season.
“I think this year, our attack is really strong,” Eickhoff said. “Last year, we had a couple strong players on the attack. This year, with the recruiting class, both attack and defense is strong. More depth, definitely.”
Mesa has 14 returning players this season, but it remains young with 14 new players, including 13 freshmen.
Olivia Porcaro is a sophomore transfer from Findlay (Ohio). The midfielder is from Aspen.
“We have good depth this year we can use, and the pace of the game won’t change much,” Abby Simpson said. “We’ll be able to sub more and get fresh legs in there.”
Four of the new players are attackers.
Freshman Haley Kroll made an immediate impact with three goals in Mesa’s season opener two weeks ago, a 14-7 loss to Fort Lewis. The Mavericks (0-1) play Saturday at Adams State.
“Haley Kroll is going to have a great year this year,” Simpson said.
The other freshmen attackers are Zoe Aldous, Kayla Lyall and Kacie Jay.
Lyall’s twin sister, Rachel, will play defense.
Henderson, Eickhoff, Lexie Chavez, and Rachael Sutton are back to give Mesa an experienced midfield.
“Lexie is going to be a great player for us,” Simpson said. “Having two years, she’s even better now than she was the past two years.”
Lauren Wells is back at goalkeeper along with defenders Lauren Elliott, Central grad Maddie Spor and Megan Lynch.
Wells is backed up by sophomore Kady Herzog and freshman Jillian Pfeifer.
The Mavericks are picked to finish fourth in the first season the RMAC is sponsoring women’s lacrosse. Lindenwood, which won the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association title last year, is the favorite to win the RMAC title. Regis is picked second.
“Lindenwood is a very good program,” Simpson said. “They get a lot of junior college transfers.”
With the RMAC sponsoring women’s lacrosse, there will be a postseason conference tournament May 2-3, hosted by Regis.
“We’re really excited about that,” Simpson said. “We’re actually competing for something.”
The RMAC doesn’t have an automatic qualifier for the NCAA championships. Eight teams qualify for nationals.