In its inaugural season of competing as a Minnesota State High School League team, the Brainerd Warriors gained valuable game experience.
While they didn't win a game last season, going 0-13, the Warriors were competitive in many. With 20 of the 22 girls on the roster having played last year, the goal is to secure win No. 1.
"I've got 20 regular varsity players coming back," Warriors head coach Todd Brown said. "Eleven of those are seniors. Five are juniors and four are 10th graders. We're pretty senior dominant or heavy. We have several seniors that I expect are going to continue to have good years.
"Honestly, we're going to try and be competitive and win some games. That's the goal. We had some games last year where we were close, but didn't win any. The girls played hard and I expect they will continue to do that and hopefully we'll find some wins this year."
Everybody that earned a postseason award last season is back, including graduated co-MVP Kortney Villnow, who is now an assistant coach.
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- Head coach: Todd Brown (second year)
- 2018 record: 0-13
- Captains: Briteny Flestch, Heidi Jacobson, Alyssa Copham, Jaycie Hinrichs, Joie Kramer
- Assistant coach: Kortny Villnow
- Volunteer coach: Dan Jacobson
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Villnow shared the MVP award with junior Josi Kramer, who led the Warriors with 14 goals and added two assists.
She was followed by seniors Macey Peterson with 13 goals and Britney Fletcher with five goals and three assists. Heidi Jacobson was next with four goals and an assist.
"This year, we're going to try to be a little more patient," Brown said. "When we take shots, we're going to take good shots rather than to shoot just to shoot. We'll have a little more patient offense this year. We want to do a better job of winning the draw and controlling the ball and getting good shots."
Jacobson and Peterson were co-offensive MVPs. Junior Abby Klecker was the defensive MVP, she'll be joined by fellow junior Lexi Larson and sophomore Serena White.
"On defense we lost one of our key defenders in Kortney Villnow," Brown said. "She's back helping coach this year. She's my assistant. But we have some girls coming back. Abby Klecker, Lexi Larson, Serena White. They all played every game last year on defense. I think they're going to be solid. We'll have to add someone else into the mix there, but with their experience that will help them out and help our team out."
Audrey Collins manned the most minutes in net for Brainerd. She logged 450 minutes and secured 107 saves. This year, Collins is hoping for a change of scenery and as luck would have it, the Warriors might be in a position to allow that.
"Audrey Collins has been playing goalie for a few years," Brown said. "This year she decided she wants to play out in the field a little bit more. But the good news is, Olivia King is out and she is a great hockey goalie. This is her first year that she's come out. She will take some of those in net for us and maybe Audrey will rotate in there a little bit, too.
"Like I said, this is Olivia's first year out for lacrosse, but she has the goalie training. Hockey is different than lacrosse obviously, but she knows the angles, and I expect that she'll be just fine."
There is no Central Lakes Conference for lacrosse yet, but teams from Rocori, Sauk Rapids and St. Cloud are on the schedule. Brainerd is teaming up with the Mississippi 8 Conference to play teams like St. Michael-Albertville, Rogers, Monticello and Chisago Lakes. The Warriors will also play first-year program Moorhead, along with Duluth East, Grand Rapids and Proctor.
"Generally, when we're playing the metro area teams they have youth programs going," Brown said. "They've got kids that have been playing for years. Our kids are new to the sport when they join us so we're learning on the go. We don't have that feeder program that brings that experience.
"Last year, with the weather, most of our team was new and they hadn't even been on a lacrosse field until our first game. Other teams have just been playing longer so they have more game experience."
The need for younger teams is there, too, as Brainerd grew from 52 players last year to 86 this season.
"That's an incredible jump," Brown said. "We need to maybe look at adding another team like a freshmen team or a junior high team. Which is something we'll be looking to do. It will all depend on schools in our conference and our area if they have that ability to do that as well. But with 86 players it's hard to get everybody game time, but we're going to try to so they get at least get some game time."
Seniors: Alyssa Copham (mid), Alyssa Hampton (mid), Audrey Collins (goalie), Britney Fletcher (mid), Chase Christian (forward), Emily Manton (mid), Heidi Jacobson (mid), Jaycie Hinrichs (mid), Macey Peterson (mid), Mia Thelen (defense), Olivia King (defense), Sayali Blowers (forward)
Juniors: Abigail Klecker (defense), Jenna Nieman (mid), Josie Kramer (mid), Lexi Larson (defense), Sophia Heidmann (forward)
Sophomores: Emma Booth (mid), Kaija Lee (mid), Kate Kurtzman (forward), Lily Jones (forward), Serena White (defense)
Saturday, April 20, at Duluth East 1 p.m.
Monday, April 22, vs. Rogers 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 25, at Monticello 6 p.m.
April 27, vs. Proctor 1:30 p.m.
May 3, at Buffalo 7 p.m.
May 4, vs. Becker 1:30 p.m.
May 6, vs. Rocori at Cold Spring 4:30 p.m.
May 7, at Moorhead 7 p.m.
May 9, vs. Sartell/Sauk Rapids at Sauk Rapids 6 p.m.
May 13, vs. St. Cloud 7 p.m.
May 16, at St. Michael-Albertville 7 p.m.
May 21, at Grand Rapids 6 p.m.
May 23, vs. Chisago Lakes 7 p.m.