Back-to-back is nice; a three-peat is even nicer.
That’s the goal for the two-time defending Badgerland Conference Champion Waunakee girls’ lacrosse team in 2020. Graduation has left plenty of spots to fill as the season opens, but this year’s team has reinforcements provided by the underclassmen, including a large group of juniors.
“Our underclassmen have shown up in large numbers to all our pre-season activities,” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Ashley Lochner, entering her sixth season leading the program, noting that the recent warm weather provides a potential boost for early-season growth. “Anticipating that the turf will be available right away for the start of our season, we will be able to hit the ground running the earliest we have ever been able to in our tenure.”
Defense has traditionally been a team strength under Lochner; this year appears to be no different. Senior defenders Nikki Rauls – an Edgewood commit – and Olivia Thompson return as all-conference players and will anchor a defense that looks to again lead the conference in goals allowed. Senior McKenna Weil and junior Ava Lazzareschi will also be called upon to provide support for new starting goalie Caitlin Davitt – an Illinois Tech commit – in 2020.
While five of the team’s top six scorers from a year ago are departed, the cupboard is far from bare for the Warriors on the offensive end of the field. Senior attacker Sophia Gehling earned all-conference recognition in 2019 and will be looked upon to lead the team’s offense in 2020. Providing support will be senior Anna Grasee, junior Alexa Berg and sophomore Grace Bernards.
“We had brand new players that played competitively at the JV level that will make their way into the varsity level. It’s also exciting to see some of the crisp stick-handling and focus out of the freshmen class,” added Lochner. “We also have depth with Nikki and Olivia being go-tos in pinch situations where a quick score is needed from them.”
In recording a 15-6 record in 2019, the Warriors posted their second consecutive undefeated conference schedule; Waunakee will look to keep that streak alive for another season.
“I expect us to be conference contenders with a strong state presence again,” said Lochner. “While we will be working to groom the underclassmen, I am certain we will have a strong starting and bench cohort by the start of games.”
Waunakee will open their schedule at Warrior Stadium against Whitefish Bay/Nicolet/Shorewood on Friday, April 3. Start time against the visiting Wolfpack is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.