Preview: HHS girls lacrosse team is experienced, thanks to club playThe first varsity girls lacrosse team at Hastings High School will be anything but small. Head coach Nikki Peterson said some 45 girls are out for the team, which was welcome news for the coaching staff. Now, Peterson needs to figure out what to do and where to put everyone.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
The first varsity girls lacrosse team at Hastings High School will be anything but small. Head coach Nikki Peterson said some 45 girls are out for the team, which was welcome news for the coaching staff.
Now, Peterson needs to figure out what to do and where to put everyone.
Thankfully, she’s not new to lacrosse, nor are many of the girls on the team. For about a decade, Hastings has had a club lacrosse team and last season, Peterson was the team’s assistant coach. She knows many of the girls on the team and is thankful she has that year of experience with the group.
What Peterson and the team lack, though, is varsity-level experience. They figure to be in somewhat of a crash course this season, learning the ropes in conference play.
“Being in a new conference, and being a school sport now, the competition is going to be very different and a lot harder,” Peterson said. “I don’t want the girls to come out of the season saying ‘This is how many we won, and this is how many we lost.’
“Winning is awesome, but we want the girls to come out talking about how much fun they had and how much they learned. If we do win a lot of games, that’s wonderful. It’s not that we’re not trying to win games. We’re just trying to build the team aspect, really work together and learn the game.”
Lacrosse has taken off across the nation, and this is the sixth season it has been a varsity sport in Minnesota. Last year, the girls state title was won by the Blake School. Eden Prairie placed second, Bloomington Jefferson was third and Stillwater was fourth.
There are four sections that compete for spots in the state tournament. Hastings competes with teams from Apple Valley, Bloomington, Burnsville, Eagan, Lakeville, Owatonna, Cottage Grove, Eastview, Prior Lake and Rosemount, among others.
The Suburban East Conference will include all the 10 teams from the league: Hastings, Woodbury, Forest Lake, Park, Stillwater, White Bear Lake, East Ridge, Cretin-Derham Hall, Mounds View and Roseville.
Captains were voted on last year by the team. They chose Sarah Peterson, Brooke Francis and Aunnie Putz as their captains.
Peterson plays center and she is a senior. This is her fourth year of playing lacrosse.
“I’m really looking forward to see what she can do as a center on the team,” Peterson said. “She’ll be doing the most running – centers are on offense and defense. She’s always done a great job.”
Putz is a defensive wing. She was a captain last season for Hastings.
“She’s really bringing a lot of leadership to our team,” Peterson said. “She is great at defense. She’s really been a great leader with that. So many girls want to play offense, because they want to score. She’s really portraying a great message for the other girls.”
Francis is an attack wing and is a junior captain.
“She’s a really great asset to our team,” Peterson said. “She worked hard in the offseason, and it really shows.”
The team has just four seniors — Peterson, Putz, goalie Amelia Rigdon and Emma Koethe.
Koethe plays home, meaning she is on only offense. This is just her second year playing, but she has improved dramatically in a short period of time, Peterson said.
“For this year, during tryouts, there was not a question whether or not she would be on varsity,” Peterson said. “I could tell she really practiced hard in the offseason. It was great to see her improve so much.”
Also in the lineup are the following girls:
Juniors — Francis, Haley Berg, Hannah Carlson, Ellie Clark, Alison Kromer, Emily Kuhn and Angel Thao.
Sophomores — Kate Anderson, Grace Daggett, Christina Gillard, Amy McNamara, Miranda McNamara, Hannah Moldenhauer, Gabbie Morse, Zoe Nash, Rachel Reamer, Rodu Roro, Madeline Sundheim, Taylor Heidenreich and Erika Haviland.
Freshmen — Fallon Cassidy, Jenna Kasel, Laura Leifeld, Mikaela Leifeld, Sam Matsch, Catie Nelson, Rachel Peterson, Gabbie Riveness, Liz Sager, Mackenzie Schmotter, Sena Sebion, Casey Webber, Libby Molitor, Lizzy Pagel and Megan Lockard.
Peterson is no stranger to the community of Hastings. She attended Hastings High School and played lacrosse for two seasons. She graduated in 2005, then attended Winona State University, where she played rugby.
She graduated, earned a teaching position at Hastings Middle School, and now teaches math at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.
When the sport was added to the varsity lineup at HHS this season, Peterson threw her name into the hat and was thrilled when notified by athletics director Tom Johnson that she had earned the spot.
“When Tom told me I had the job, he said, ‘Congratulations on being the first-ever Hastings women’s lacrosse coach,’” she said. “I hadn’t really thought about it. When he said that, I thought ‘Oh my gosh. This is really neat.’
“I’m honored to be able to do it.”
Peterson’s assistant coach is her brother, Luke Riveness.
The team’s games will be played on the soccer fields behind the high school.