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College Previews, Realignment and Getting to Know ULR
We’re back with another week of previews and a small update on what is happening the world of realignment at the high school level, Hopefully you had a chance to read up on last week’s coverage of the Sandstorm Tournament in the desert and the beginning of our college preview series with the University of Utah. As we get deeper and deeper into the waters of lacrosse season, I was reflecting on my own start with the sport back in high school. It’s been almost 23 years since I donned the black and white over at Highland High, but lacrosse was an important outlet for me to help find independence from the grind of football and the expectation that every red blooded young man participate in Highland Rugby. At the time I was in high school, every position I played was occupied by future Hall of Famer Haloti Ngata, one of the very best humans you can find and also one of the best athletes I’ve ever been around, Tim Haslam excluded. Even though Haloti was a year younger than I was, he was better at everything and by a wide margin. I was obsessed with sports and taking a season off was simply out of the question, so when the opportunity to play lacrosse came up, I jumped at it. The sport was still new but growing fast, something that I feel has cycled around to a bigger audience now. I was never a great player, but I found a community and a new group of friends outside of football, and I found a new confidence in myself and my abilities as an athlete that translated into football, and eventually helped me to find an opportunity playing at Snow College after high school. It’s funny, but I find myself in a similar situation now as I return to lacrosse, but this time from the side of media coverage. Tim truly is the Haloti Ngata of lacrosse coverage in the state, no one has more experience, passion or knowledge of everything going on. I mentioned that he’s already been a tremendous resource, and I hope he doesn’t mind all the questions I send his way all the time but I wanted to appeal to you all as well. We’re going to be out and about a lot this season, I hope you will all feel free to introduce yourselves to me, at 6’4” with long red hair and a pretty decent beard, I’m pretty easy to find in a crowd and there are few things I value more than making connections and hearing the stories that are out there. In the meantime, if you have a story or something that you feel deserves some attention, you can find me on twitter @brownbearslc or shoot me an email at bdbrown18 at gmail dot com. I am always in need of coaching, especially with lacrosse and while I don’t think we can ever replace what Tim brought to the community, I think we can compensate with people power and desire to hear what you have to share. The sport deserves a spotlight, and I’m happy to be be the on/off switch for whatever we need to shine that light on.
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Special thanks to Dane Stewart and Kenzie Christiansen for this weeks’ BYU lacrosse previews!!!
BYU Men’s Lacrosse Preview by Dane Stewart
Rise and Shout the Cougars are out in front of the RMLC preseason coaches poll. Coming off an appearance in the semi-final of the Division I MCLA championships, the Cougars bring a lot of momentum in to 2023 and have garnered 3 first-place votes to lead all D-I teams in the RMLC.
Coach Matt Schneck is back for his 14 th year at Brigham Young University. He’ll have a strong corps of returners, highlighted by Alton Taylor (2022 3 rd Team All-American Attacker) and Jake Halverson (2022 2nd Team All-American Attacker), who finished in the top 3 in team points.
The Cougars will also return Dallin Clark and Max Roberts in the midfield, both having played in every game last season. While there are significant contributors returning, BYU will have opportunities for new leaders to step in.
Defensively BYU will have to replace Defenseman Robert Richardson and Goalie Mason Moon, both were 1 st team All-Americans in 2022. Porter Hunter and Kelby Sosa who both played in every game last year return to help anchor the defense. Meanwhile, Nathan Norton returns having played in the cage in 9 games last year and boasting a .625 save percentage (just behind Moon’s .636).
The Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference will look a little different in 2023. Texas has moved to the LSA, and the RMLC will welcome in Utah, having moved up from the RMLC Div-II to replace them. BYU’s lone road conference game will be to the league’s newcomer to kick off conference play on April 11.
The 2022 Cougars finished ranked 3rd last year after falling to eventual D-I Champion South Carolina 11-9 in the semi-final. The 2023 campaign will be a tale of two seasons, as BYU’s first six games will all be on the road. Fans can get their first look at the Cougars when they host Boise State on March 11 to launch a 7-game home streak.
**Indicates RMLC conference game
Feb 8: @ UCLA
Feb 9: @ USC
Feb 11: @ Concordia
Mar 2: @ Arizona State
Mar 3: @ Grand Canyon
Mar 4: @ Michigan State (in Phoenix)
Mar 11: vs Boise State
Mar 13: vs New Hampshire
Mar 17: vs Utah State
Mar 18: vs Liberty
Mar 25: vs Simon Fraser
Mar 31: vs Cal Poly
Apr 7: vs Georgia Tech
Apr 11: @ Utah**
Apr 15: vs Utah Valley**
Apr 20: vs Colorado**
Apr 22: vs Colorado State**
BYU Womens Lacrosse Preview by Kenzie Christiansen
Spearheading the BYU Cougars Women’s Lacrosse team this season is Head Coach/Offensive specialist Summer Stephenson. Stephenson found her home on the BYU coaching staff in 2018, where she started as an assistant for 3 years. In 2021 she took the big step up into the head coaching position where she enters her second year this season. In addition to her duties at BYU, Coach Stephenson has helped the Utah Lacrosse community grow its skills and knowledge by assisting on Club and High School teams.
Assisting her this season is a dynamic group of assistant coaches that begins with Savannah Santos as defensive specialist. Santos is joined by offensive and midfield specialist Haley Harris and Christine Duffy rounds out the rest of the staff as the goalie specialist. All BYU lacrosse coaches are alumni from BYU.
Defensive specialist Savannah Santos started loving lacrosse in middle school and hasn’t put down her stick since. With two great years playing on BYU Women’s Lacrosse behind her, she takes the knowledge she’s gained into growing a strong defensive team on the current team. Coach Santos is going onto her second year with BYU.
Offensive and Midfield specialist Haley Harris is fresh out of the High School and club coaching scene as she steps into her first year as a BYU women’s lacrosse coach. Coach Harris started playing lacrosse in elementary school and played all the way up to the collegiate level, where she ended her playing career after being a four year athlete at BYU.
Goalie Specialist Christine Duffy fills some of the biggest shoes on the field as she goes into her fourth year as an assistant at BYU. Duffy began playing lacrosse in middle school, and continued playing up until she left BYU after four amazing seasons in the program. Coach Duffy came to BYU after gaining coaching experience from being an assistant at Provo High School.
Coach Stephenson and her group come into the 2023 season with lofty goals and a desire to show how good they can be. “BYU always aims to do better than our previous years. This year we have plans to come out harder to kick off our season and make a strong and memorable statement.” Stephenson said. When asked what knowledge the team carried with them from 2022 into 2023, she responded, “I think one of the biggest things was to worry about things you can control and let go of the rest of it. Going into 2023, BYU will have to focus on what we can do to change a situation and to make ourselves better and push through adversity. Our goal is to have a perfect record, I mean that’s the ideal scenario, right?”
Coach Stephenson added that “The team’s focus is on unity and being all in. Captains this semester are Emma Sackley, Carli Howe, and Addie Carlson. All of them are seniors on the team and are all in their 4th year at BYU on the team.We set up a pretty competitive schedule, we’re excited for our matchups and for the home games we will be hosting. Also excited that we will be hosting regionals this year!”
Update on UHSAA Realignment
Last week the UHSAA released their region realignment for 2023-2025. Historically the UHSAA has maintained multiple alignments to satisfy the needs of respective sports, including Lacrosse. While the official alignment released last week includes a ‘football’ and ‘all other activities’ version, we have confirmed there will indeed be a boys and girls lacrosse alignment. Per the UHSAA, this alignment is currently under work, and will hopefully be ready for release near the start of the 2022 campaign.
The 2021-23 Lacrosse alignment consisted of a few key differences from the “all other activities’ alignment, including having a 3-region 6A, a 4-region 5A, and having a 2-region 4A with one of those regions including teams from traditionally lower classifications (Waterford, Juan Diego, and Utah Military Hillfield). The only details formally released by the UHSAA last week regarding Lacrosse is that Park City Boys and Girls Lacrosse has been approved to ‘play up’ in the 5A classification, tentatively in what will be Region6.
We will continue to keep you updated as formal alignment for Boys and Girls Lacrosse is finalized.
Getting to Know UtahLaxReport - Patrick Sanger
Patrick Sanger handles the bulk of the multimedia work for ULR, from photos to videos, social media, to graphics creation, his work is prominent across the ULR platform and the community. Patrick hails from Folsom, California and moved to Utah almost two years ago to attend the University of Utah, where he is currently a sophomore studying Strategic Communications. In addition to his duties with Utah Lacrosse Report, Patrick also works with Utah Athletics covering a variety of sports and spends the little free time he has left over freelancing. When he’s not on a field or court showing the world through his lense, he spends his time snowboarding and cliff jumping and is hoping to get into mountain biking this summer once the snow melts. You can check out more of his work on his Instagram.
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