Lacrosse has spread like wildfire through the Davis sports scene — and one big reason for that has been the success of the Davis High girls squad.
Coming off a 15-5 season in which the Blue Devils went 12-0 in Bay Shore Athletic League play, coach Jenn Morris sees another “very strong” team playing at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium.
DHS, according to LAXpower preseason lacrosse rankings, is the 12th-best team in the northland. Last year, the Devils finished ninth in Northern California ratings.
“We are returning key players in every position,” explains Morris. “We have a very strong and talented senior group and the expectations are to return to sectionals … and do very well.”
Last season, it was one game and out in the North Bay Section playoffs — the loss coming to then-No. 4-ranked Alcalanes. Morris, in her third year at the Davis helm, hopes experience means a different result come tournament time:
“On the attacking end, we return senior Mari Cajandig (the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons) and sophomore Kylie Drexel (second-leading DHS scorer).”
Both Drexel and Cajandig were first-team all-Bay Shore performers and each — Drexel in basketball and Cajandig with tennis — has a second sport keeping them in tip-top condition.
At midfield, senior Ashley Pugh, another Devil all-league first-teamer, joins Monica Berry (now a sophomore).
Pugh — despite her position — was third on DHS in points and, as a freshman, Berry earned second-team Bay Shore honors. Berry comes by her lacrosse acumen honestly: her brother, Max, is a former Blue Devil standout who now plays for UC Santa Barbara.
The Blue Devil defense should again be formidable as all-BSAL first-team member Erin Chavanne returns with two-time national Women’s Division Intercollegiate Association participant Simone Aldredge (an honorable mention for league honors in 2010).
Coming off effective seasons a year ago, goalies Gabrielle (Briki) Cajandig and Kelly Richmond return to mind the nets.
So, where will these Blue Devils be the strongest?
“That’s a tough question,” Morris says, thinking hard. “This is one of those seasons where I feel we are solid in all areas. Our defense looks very strong and our attack promises to one of the strongest since I started here … so it’s going to be an exciting team to coach.”
The Devils, however, will be without two of their last-season cornerstones. Defender Rachel Mack, a team leader on and off the field, graduated and now plays at UC Davis, while versatile current senior Katherine Eadie will miss the schedule with a knee injury.
“We’ll badly miss them both,” Morris says, adding “But we return enough key players in each position to continue our solid performance.”
Despite the increasing numbers in kids playing lacrosse, this girls team hit a turnout-blip this spring …
“Numbers this year are low (for us),” Morris explains. “We have a huge turnout in the sophomore class, but it has dwindled in our junior class.”
Returning for their third seasons will be Morris assistant Hilary Harkins and junior varsity coach Lindie Lorber.
Knowing that, after two sterling seasons in league, DHS won’t be a surprise to any opponent, what does Morris see in Bay Shore competition?
“Berkeley High likely will provide our biggest challenge this season. They have some talented players. Piedmont can also hold a few surprises. There are some great club teams sending kids to those schools.”
The Blue Devils break out the sticks in earnest Saturday with a day full of scrimmages in what officials call a “playday” at DHS.
Then on March 1, Davis travels to Oak Ridge (6:30 p.m.). The Devils go to Cal High on March 4 (to face San Ramon at 7 p.m.) and March 8 is a game at Foothill (7 p.m.) before DHS returns for its home opener March 11 against Miramonte (7 p.m.).
St. Francis will be in town March 17 at 7 p.m. and league play begins March 22 at Piedmont (7:30 p.m.).
Notes: Morris was the first-ever women’s lacrosse coach at George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) in 2000. She is a former All-American player at Ithaca College in New York. … The Bay Shore Athletic League tournament begins May 10 (at a site to be determined) and the North Coast section playoffs face-off May 18.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com