Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Girls' lacrosse capsules

By Justin Felisko preps@gazette.com - Updated: March 15, 2014 at 8:21 pm

SOUTHERN LEAGUE

Air Academy

Coach: Sean Harmon (15th season)

Last year: 15-2

Key players: Kaley Holmes, sr., mid.; Natalie Berg, sr., mid.; Jessica Berg, sr., mid.

Outlook: Air Academy will strive to avenge last year's 13-9 loss to Cherry Creek in the state semifinals behind their tri-captains and all-Americans Kaley Holmes, Natalie Berg and Jessica Berg.

Holmes and Natalie Berg were both named first-team all-Americans after potting 40 and 49 goals, respectively. Natalie Berg also finished second in the state with 49 assists and fourth with 66 ground balls.

As a junior, Jessica Berg erupted for 38 goals on her way to being named an honorable mention all-American after finding the back of the net 18 times in 2012.

Air Academy, which had no seniors on its roster last year and has won a state title as recently as 2012, enters 2014 as the defending Southern League champs and will be the favorite to repeat .

The key will be for the Kadets to remain healthy because beyond their highly talented senior class there is limited depth.

"We are not too deep of a program," Harmon said. "The depth is a little bit of a concern, but we are working and have some young freshmen that will look to make a difference early this year."

Cheyenne Mountain

Coach: Marc Luckett (1st season)

Last year: 15-2

Key players: Nell Crosby, sr., mid.; Tarah Gilbreth, sr., mid.; Hailey Gelzer, sr., mid/att.

Outlook: Marc Luckett is tasked with taking over the talented Cheyenne Mountain girls' lacrosse program for Mary Serre. However, the first-year coach is confident the Indians will not skip a beat after coaching many of the girls at the youth level.

Luckett will have plenty of weapons, including Crosby and Gilbreth.

Gilbreth led the Southern League in goals and was fifth in the state with 64. Her 32 assists ranked third in the league.

Crosby has been recruited to play at Columbia, where she will compete against her sister, former Indian and current Princeton Tiger Tate Crosby (2012).

Last year, Nell Crosby ranked fourth on the Indians with 36 goals.

Gilbreth, Crosby and fellow tri-captain Gelzer will lead a team that lost by one goal to eventual state champion Cherry Creek in the state quarterfinals.

Rampart

Coach: Melissa Rausch (4th season)

Last year: 8-7

Key players: Kara Jones, jr., GK/def.; Allison Popelar, jr., mid/att.; Kelli Warmouth, jr., m/att.; Lexi Alford, jr., m/att.; Sam Smith, jr., mid/att.

Outlook: Rampart returns a strong junior class looking to build off last season, and more recently, a Colorado Springs Indoor League championship. First-team all-Southern League Jones (13g, 18a) will be one the Rams' top defensive players returning, while Warmouth - a second-team all-league standout with 49 goals - and captain Popelar, who also received second-team honors thanks to 33 goals and a team-high 20 assists, will lead the team offensively.

Smith (8g, 7a) is reunited with Popelar and Alford (24g) for the first time since youth lacrosse after transferring from Fountain Valley.

However, the three are the only Rams that have experience playing lacrosse before high school, compared to nine of 12 Rampart starters that first began playing the sport with the Rams.

Regardless, Rausch likes her team's potential.

"We have a solid core of returning players," Rausch said. "They are a great group of athletes who may not have played a lot of lacrosse, but they are hardworking and very athletic."

A big key this year will be the team's ability to win at home. The 2013 season was a tale of two teams as Rampart went 7-1 on the road compared to 1-6 at home.

Liberty

Coach: Alison Kiselich (2nd season)

Last year: 1-13

Key players: Roxy Ohlsen, sr., c; Maria Chavez, sr., def.

Outlook: Things can only go up for Liberty after the Lancers' one-win campaign. The Lancers will be in search of offensive help with Ohlsen being the team's primary scoring threat.

However, the team has been improving its communication skills and teamwork through a variety of volunteer efforts in the offseason with the Feed My Starving Children volunteer program and at Wilson Elementary school.

Palmer Ridge

Coach: Don Bryant (2nd season)

Last year: 12-4

Key players: Rachel Braaten, sr., mid.; Morgan Cogburn, sr., mid.; Cellene Feathers, sr., def./mid.; Taryn Heinz, sr., def./mid.; Brianna Knop, sr., GK; Morgan Wolfe sr., mid.

Outlook: Offense should be easy to find for Palmer Ridge with seven returning players who scored 20 or more goals.

Rachel Braaten is one of the Bears' top scoring threats after posting 36 goals and 12 assists in 2013, while Taryn Heinz will look to lead Palmer Ridge on defense.

The Bears also posted two other 30-plus goal scorers last season in then-freshman Mary Koch (33g) and junior Ashley Walker (32g)

Goalie Knop is signing with Limestone (S.C.) College to play lacrosse and field hockey. The senior is coming off a 2013 campaign where she posted a .435 save percentage.

Pine Creek

Coach: Roger Wallace (16th season)

Last year: 5-9

Key players: Stephanie Warhoe, sr., C; Arran Senn, jr., att.; Shay Calhoun, jr., def.; Calyssa Trautner, so., mid/att.; Maddie Harrington, so., mid.; Anna Roberson, jr., GK.

Outlook: Warhoe will be one of only two senior starters, as Pine Creek transitions many freshmen and first-year players into significant roles.

Juniors Senn and Calhoun will be strong contributors for Pine Creek on offense and defense, respectively, and Roberson will be looked at for strong goaltending.

Wallace said he is "expecting many things" from sophomore middie Harrington and that it will be interesting to see how several players from the Eagles' successful girls' state playoff basketball team transition to the lacrosse squad.

Not reporting: Palmer

Justin Felisko, The Gazette

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