Girls Lacrosse: Warriors hope to build off momentum from last year

The 2023 Brainerd Warriors girls lacrosse preview

Brainerd girls lacrosse practice in the gym.
Brainerd's Alexis Aspinwall passes the ball during practice Thursday, April 6, 2023, at Brainerd High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — With key returners from a team that saw its first winning record in program history last year, head coach Mata Agre thinks there are good things in store for her second season.

“We are really excited,” Agre said. “I think we can finally put the COVID year behind us and put a string of years together of practice that we can build. We have a lot of returners that are back and we had a big group of new athletes last year and most of them are back, which is a huge development piece and we are excited to see how they contribute this year.”

Senior captain Breya Sawyer is the main attacker who returns. Last season Sawyer was second on the team in goals with 46. Another senior captain on the attack is Alexis Aspinwall, who scored three goals last year.

“Breya has been a great player for us for a long time, so I think she will definitely take care of our attack side of things,” Agre said. “Alexis Aspinwall tends to be a little quieter on the statistics side, but is a great contributor for us and someone we are going to rely on.”

In the midfield, juniors Lila Collins and Caroline Holcomb-Smith are both returning starters.


Brainerd girls lacrosse practice in the gym.
Brainerd's Breya Sawyer runs drills during practice Thursday, April 6, 2023, at Brainerd High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“They’ve started for us the last two seasons and have had strong seasons in their other sports, so we are looking forward to seeing how they can contribute,” Agre said. “They will be people we rely on.”

Junior Mercedes Engstrom will step in as a midfield starter for Brainerd as well.

“She’ll pick up the slack from where we lost some pieces last year,” Agre said. “I expect to hear her name called a lot with more playing timing in the midfield and attack and I’m excited to see how she contributes this year.”

Senior captain Macy Peterson returns as the goalie for the Warriors. Peterson has started in net the last five seasons.

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“She’s been an outstanding goalie in our section and is well recognized that way,” Agre said.

On defense, Emerson Holcomb-Smith graduated, but the Warriors get back the rest of their defenders including senior captain Abby Paulson, junior Alyssa Peterson and junior Sarah Galbadores.

“We are excited to see how our defenders can continue to work together,” Agre said. “It all starts with Abby Paulson, our captain, with Alyssa Peterson and Sarah Galbadores doing a great job for us.”

Other players Agre is excited about include junior Ellie Hoffman on defense and seniors Gretchen Paysse and Samantha Galbadores on offense.


“There are definitely some younger players that we are looking forward to seeing,” Agre said. “We will see who else steps up.”

Mata Agre
Mata Agre
Kelly Humphrey

Agre said the four captains have stepped up as leaders.

“They know what’s expected and have all played other sports,” Agre said. “It’s their last season and they’ve put a lot of work in captain’s practice and we are excited to see how the team grows this year.”

The Warriors won nine games last year, including a 15-2 playoff victory over Rocori. The Warriors fell 12-9 to St. Michael-Albertville in the Section 8 Quarterfinals.

“We had a lot of strong games against a lot of our section competitors last year,” Agre said. “There are some that could’ve gone either way and we were on the losing side of those. I think we are really excited to see which way those games go this year. We should be competitive and give ourselves a chance to win. We have more of a home schedule this year, which is nice.”

Being in her second year as coach, Agre hopes to bring more stability to the lacrosse program as well.

“I hope it helps a ton,” she said. “For me, I had taken a gap until last year when I got involved here with lacrosse, so I’ve learned a lot more on the coaching side. I am just really excited for lacrosse to continue to grow in the lakes area. We have a middle school program now which means we have seen our numbers boom. We want to continue to see the sport grow here and give kids an opportunity to be athletes at a younger age.”

Warriors roster
Seniors: Alexis Aspinwall, Samantha Galbadores, Isabelle Holmes, Kaileigh Moline, Maggie Neptune, Abby Paulson, Gretchen Paysse, Macy Peterson, Megan Praught, Breya Sawyer
Juniors: Lila Collins, Sophia Dewey, Mercedes Engstrom, Sarah Galbadores, Kate Haglin, Ellie Hoffman, Caroline Holcomb-Smith, Saya Kiyuna, Kylee Larson, Kiara Laube, Anzehlika Leonidovna-Ilina, Hannah Neuwirth, Eva Oium, Alyssa Peterson, McKenna Thesing, Gabrielle Wentzel
Sophomores: Kristina Ballif, Madison Brocker, Sabrina Galbadores, Sophia Jensen, Abbigail Larson, Brooke Mulholland, Brooke Olson, Isabella Simota, Isabelle Smith, Raquel Tulenchik.
Freshmen: Olivia Black Lance, Mya Frank, Ava Haskell, Kamryn Kraemer, Angelica Lange, Taylor Manecke, Madeline Maurer, Grace Mcardell, Ella McCulle, Sophia Meghini, Emma Neuwirth, Amanda Nobis, Cassidy Otto, Maureen Paulus, Sophia Porter, Sophie Silvernail, Leah Soukup, Rebekah Soukup, Molly Swantek, Avery Vagts


Warriors schedule
Monday, April 17: at St. Cloud, 5:30 p.m.
April 20: hosts Sartell/Sauk Rapids, 7 p.m.
April 21: hosts Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.
April 24: hosts Rocori, 7 p.m.
April 27: hosts St. Cloud, 7 p.m.
May 2: hosts Moorhead, 6:30 p.m.
May 4: hosts Becker, 7 p.m.
May 5: hosts Chisago Lakes, 7 p.m.
May 9: at Sartell/Sauk Rapids, 6 p.m.
May 10: at Grand Rapids, 6:30 p.m.
May 15: at Rocori, 7 p.m.
May 16: at Big Lake, 6:30 p.m.
May 19: at Monticello, 6 p.m.
May 29: Section 8 play-in
May 31: Section 8 quarterfinals
June 6: Section 8 semifinals
June 8: Section 8 finals
June 13-15: State Tournament

Girls lacrosse
Head coach: Mata Agre, second year
2022 record: 9-6
Captains: Abby Paulson, Breya Sawyer, Macy Peterson, Alexis Aspinwall
Assistant coach: Todd Brown, Ruby Hopp

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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