(Photo by Ralph LoVuolo)
Lacrosse team goes to finals
The 2019 Scripps Ranch High School women’s lacrosse team is a powerhouse. It was so strong this season that it was highly ranked state-wide all year, and the team defeated most competition by lopsided scores.
The Lady Falcons are so talented that they sliced their way through the CIF San Diego Section Girls Lacrosse Championships Open Division post-season bracket to the championship game; first by beating Del Norte 18-5 on May 11 in the quarterfinals, then by trouncing a good San Marcos team 19-4 in the semi-finals on May 15. The Scripps Ranch players earned the opportunity to avenge one of only two regular season losses as they are scheduled to play La Jolla High in the championship game on Saturday, May 18, starting at 5 p.m. at San Dieguito High School.
Earlier in the season, Scripps Ranch lost to La Jolla in an overtime thriller on April 10. The team’s only other defeat was against a strong Harriton High School team from Pennsylvania in a special East Coast-West Coast match-up on April 16.
Scripps Ranch head coach Michele Uhlfelder stated her team’s lacrosse skill set, team speed and team philosophy sets them apart.
“They really pay attention to detail and they’re very competitive. They make practices competitive and they really work hard at practices,” Uhlfelder said, adding that this translates to the games. “They feel prepared and they feel excited to play and they grind it out. They don’t stop working.”
She explained that the team has excellent leaders and the players take leadership responsibilities at all levels. The team culture has been outstanding, Uhlfelder said.
Team captain Jolie Riedell and Ella Brislin lead the team statistically in many categories, Uhlfelder stated. Attackers Natalie Markman, Jaiden Stepnowski and Kayden Williamson have made major contributions that are also showing up in the stat lines, she said.
The transition game has been strong. Midfielders such as Mara Zajac, Brislin and Riedell have been working well together and their fitness has paid off, Uhlfelder said. Draw specialist Leiden Huber has also played an important role, although she has had to deal with a knee injury.
The lack of scoring by opponents is a testament to how the defensive unit has been one big workhorse all season. Key contributors on defense include Adah Anderson and Ashly McGratten, as well as goalie Ali Richardson-Pepper.
“They’ve really invested – not just physically, but mentally – in each other and the team concept. We’re seeing that in how balanced our scoring is. We have a lot of girls scoring,” Uhlfelder said. “We’re seeing it in the contributions that all the girls are making. … It’s heightened their sense of comradery and heightened their sense of pride.”
Uhlfelder explained this special season came together partly because the players brought all their experiences and skills from club play, camps and clinics, then focused on what they could do together as a team.
Having a highly accomplished coach is another reason. Uhlfelder was a four-year starter and First Team All American at the University of Maryland; a two-time gold medalist on the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team; an inductee of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame; and the all-time winningest coach of the Stanford women’s lacrosse team.