Discover more from Utah Lacrosse Report
Interviews w/ Coach Ottley (Springville) and Coach Jorgensen (UVU), High School Classification Updates and more!
Issue 75 - Is this thing on? 2022 here we come!
Welcome back lacrosse fans and Happy New Year! Some of you are probably reading this and saying to yourself, “My son/daughter graduated and I don’t care about lacrosse anymore. I should unsubscribe.” I’d ask you to please reconsider or at least stay in touch with the community somehow. There is always a need for more people to help so if you have a desire and some free time, please stay involved.
I’m really excited for the upcoming season and I couldn’t be more thrilled that Kenzie Christiansen has offered to cover the girls side of the game. I’m extremely grateful for her willingness to step in and help. While I’ve tried my best in the past to cover the girls' side, I haven’t been able to provide the coverage they deserve so I’m hoping and confident Kenzie will fill that void. We’ll send a joint email every week with the best coverage we can.
August 4, 2021 was a wild day for me. In the morning, I bought a 1965 Ford F-250 to restore in the morning. In the afternoon, I received a bonus at work and then as I was leaving that meeting, I checked my phone and had a message that Coach Holman had stepped down at Utah. Talk about a whirlwind of emotions. I was and still am very close to Coach Holman and I was very sad when I heard the news. I had spent the last 5 years getting to know him and the other coaches while doing a small part to help build the program. I purposely didn’t go near the program for a while, but let’s be honest, the urge to head to practice overtook me and I found myself on the practice field early one morning. I talked with Coach McMinn and Coach Doyle and have nothing but good things to say about them and am excited for the next chapter of Utah Lacrosse. Obviously I was also very excited that Tim McDermott was hired as an assistant coach as well.
Enough with the sappy stuff, let’s talk about the fact that we’ll have real, live lacrosse in less than a month! Lacrosse fans in Utah, this is your time to shine. The Utah v. Denver game on February 5 is the game we’ve all been waiting for! So, I have a simple request: show up. Please show up at 12:30 pm on 2/5 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, get your popcorn and get in your seats for a 1:00 pm faceoff. The Utes finished out the month at Vermont and at Marquette.
Have a glance at the article above for a great primer for the NCAA D-I season. Also a shoutout to Logan native Brandon Dodd (Air Force)!
Just down the street, Westminster will kick off its season with a scrimmage against BYU on February 15 and UVU on February 19 before taking to the road to face RMAC rival Colorado Mesa on February 27.
In the MCLA world, there’s now a Utah club team, so that should be interesting. They are joining the RMLC D-II ranks. They will open against UVU on February 5 and head to Logan on February 11. It’s going to be interesting to see how this team performs and what the future may look like for teams like Utah. In the past, it has been an MCLA policy that schools that had an NCAA D-I program couldn't have an MCLA team but that was reversed last summer. So far Utah and the Air Force Academy have formed club teams.
BYU will take to the road to open the season on February 10 against Boise State in Boise. They’ll stick around and face Washington State and Simon Fraser on February 11 and 12 respectively. They’ll then have two scrimmages against NCAA D-II teams (Westminster and Adams State) which gives them 5 games in 9 days.
UVU begins its season on February 5 against the Utah club team. It then heads to Logan to face Utah State on February 12 then also scrimmages Westminster and Adams State.
Utah State opens by hosting Utah club and UVU on February 11 and 12 respectively.
Boys High School
First things first, there was a little shuffling for teams between classifications and regions. Farmington and Northridge swapped, so Farmington is now 6A and competes in Region 1 while Northridge is 5A and competes in Region 5. Mountain Ridge and Jordan swapped, so Mountain Ridge is now 6A in Region 3 and Jordan is 5A in Region 8. Park City is now in Region 6 which makes that region even more competitive. Cedar Valley also moves to Region 9. In 4A, there are no regions, just South (Juan Diego, Judge, UMA, Waterford) and North (Bear River, Green Canyon, Logan, Mountain Crest, Ridgeline, Sky View).
There was some interesting news in the off-season about playoff structure for the boys and girls playoffs. First off, the championship games will be held at Zions Bank Stadium. Pretty cool. The other piece of news is that there will be a 4A bracket, 5A bracket and 6A bracket. Teams will still be seeded by their RPI but they’ll be in the same bracket as their classification. Teams that are 2A or 3A will compete in the 4A bracket. Also of note, regular-season games between different classifications will not be weighted differently like they are in other sports.
Here is how last year’s brackets would have turned out if we used the classification system last year. This isn’t perfect, but it is fun to think about.
I’m not 100% sure that the play-in/first-round games will shake out this way, but at least we get an idea of what this could become. I did confirm that all teams will make the playoffs. There are a handful of pros and cons to this system which I’ll likely dive into at a later time. The main thing I don’t like about it is that it doesn’t allow for a program to measure progress over the years without their entire school changing classifications. In the old system, a team would be placed in a playoff bracket with other teams on a similar level of play from that year.
These same changes apply to the girls side as well.
Sand Storm Recap
Several teams from Utah and the best videographer in the country headed to the Empire Polo Grounds for a weekend of lacrosse. On the boys side, the star of the show was the 801 Tribe 22 team who beat Classics 6-5 in the championship game after going 4-1 in pool play. The 801 Tribe 24 team went 4-2 while True UT, the Utah Hopper and Wasatch LC competed hard and represented Utah well.
On the girls side, the main highlight was Tenacity Elite 2024 who won its bracket with a 2-1 win over Team 180 24.
Utah Elevate entered the Sand Storm tournament with a strong roster, having 9 Elite High School players on their team! Taelor Goodwin, Fremont. Brinley Huddleston, Fremont. Kaylii Knight, Fremont. Toree Wheatley, Viewmont. Peri Howard, West. Kyra Lopez, Brighton. Hunter Doyle, Brighton. Olivia Lee, Brighton. Sydnee Brinton, West Jordan. When speaking with Melissa Nash and Chelsea Owens, coaches at Utah Elevate they spoke with such pride and love for their team. Sand Storm is an organized, beautiful and fun tournament in sunny California. Elevate did a great job this weekend, going 4-1 overall.
“We played hard, learned a lot and had fun - everything a coach wants in a tournament. It was so fun to play with 9 of our seniors who have helped build Utah Elevate. Sand Storm was a perfect send off for their last club tournament. The Utah Elevate team felt very cohesive and fun this weekend, which lead to a very successful weekend,” said Coach Nash.
Utah Express 2025/2026
Utah Express played in the highest pool for their bracket, they had the opportunity to play against excellent teams.
Utah Express' game against Mad Dog Elite 2025 wasn’t their first time meeting on the field. The two teams battled it out a few months prior with Utah Express taking the win with 1 goal. It took a moment but Utah Express found the right midfield lineup synergy and won 8 draw controls in a row which gave them an 8-4 lead. The team let up on the gas a bit at the end and Mad Dogs became rabid. Game over horn was a welcomed sound.
Utah Express then fell to LA Wave (8-2) and Team 180 25 (6-5). The midfield led in ground balls and draw controls. They came up short against several strong teams and goalies throughout the Sand Storm tournament. Throughout the challenges, the team pulled together and made adjustments. Utah Express has 4 2026 players on their team, they held strong with making half of the goals during the tournament. That's 13 goals for these 4 amazing athletes. With the competitive opponents, Utah Express found themselves overwhelmed by the relentless pressure from several players on the opposing teams. Utah Express regrouped and pulled themselves together and stayed more collected and detailed in their games. The girls learned to stay organized with better communication and started using the width of the field to create space and options. The attackers re-defend and ride killed fast-break momentum which gave The Express defense played well and had very few man-down situations. Every error can be used against the team at this level and staying relaxed but intense was a focus for many of the Utah Express players. Many of their players haven't played a tournament since November. Elle Erickson, 2025 goalie from Farmington continues to lead the defense. Utah Express went 2-3 with one of those losses by 1 goal.
“My goal as a coach is to have everyone feel they contributed to every win or loss. I want every player to feel what it feels like to start the game and come off the bench. I want each player to receive personal feedback and next steps. We got to play against HHH which won the tournament for 2025 and I can’t wait to review that film with the team. We will get better from losing to that team. I promise,” said Coach Podmilsak.
Force Elite left the tournament with very few mistakes, their teamwork really paid off. They went 5-0 with their first loss in the first round of playoffs vs Garden State Elite (2-7), leaving Force Elite with an overall of 5-1. Ending on top with HS Open - Spivock Pool Marx was deja-vu for Force Elite as they were at the top of the pool in 2020 at Sand Storm. This year Force Elite is their youngest Elite team yet, with 22 players on the roster and only 2 of them being 2022 (seniors) The team did extremely well with the sicknesses going around the team was unable to have practices. Force Elite entered the Sand Storm with healthy, happy and ready-to-play athletes.
Force Elite Midfield River Buechner (2022 from Skyridge) and Eloise Trafton (2023, Bozeman) dominated their opponents at the draw. Madden Clark (2023, Judge) Kyli Haws (2024, Skyridge) and Maleah Holloway (2024 , Skyline) lead Force Elite solid defense all weekend.
Jane Harmer (2023 from Jordan) and Grace DeGreef (2023, Riverton) captained the attack with speed and accuracy leading to outstanding performances.
Haven Buechner (2023, Skyridge), who is committed to Richmond, balanced the scoring efforts and saw that 14 of her teammates got at least 1 goal during the tournament.
“I could say something positive about every one of our girls,” said Coach Matt Kenning.
Interview w/ Coach Ottley - Springville Girls Lacrosse
Springville girls lacrosse will be focusing on building a fast, agile and strong team With stick skills being one of the most important parts of the game. They end nearly every training session and practice with wall balls. Wall ball makes the players focus on their skills, how they're improving and what they need to continue working on. Coach Ottley reassures the players “ We’re learning, we’re growing and we’re the ambassadors of this game” As time counts down to tryouts Springville Coaches have divided their tryouts by; 1. Coachability 2. Attitude 3. Well-Rounded Athlete. Team tryouts will be based around the fundamentals of the game, Passing, Catching, Ground Balls, Defense and Stamina. Building a strong foundation for a great year.
Reflecting back on spring 2021, “ Our first season I strived to be the Fun Coach with recruiting as many girls as we could” coming into spring 2022 Springville is not a new team anymore they have a season under their built and the coaches are pushing this team to be the fastest, most agile and strongest team they can be.
Coach Ottley, brings a healthy balance of fun, hard work, love and discipline to Springville Girls Lacrosse. With her whole family invested in Springville Lacrosse, there is never a dull moment at their house. Coach Ottley's husband is the head coach for Springville Boys Lacrosse. Her oldest son has joined her coaching staff as the new Girls Defensive Coach. Lacrosse is in the Ottley family's blood! The fun doesn’t stop with the Coaches, her daughter and son both play for Springville lacrosse.
Utah Valley Women's Lacrosse Update
Head Coach: Coach Jorgensen AKA Coach Jorgy
Assistant Coach: Jadia Cope, a former player at Utah Valley University.
“Utah Valley University is no longer going to be a joke” - Coach Jorgensen
Coach Jorgensen was hired as the head coach for Utah Valley Women’s Lacrosse in 2021. The team is working hard to make big changes to their program. Some of those big changes are High School Clinics (See below) and Summer Camps. Also in the workings of a Fall and Spring tournament hosted at Utah Valley University. Exciting things are happening at UVU that you won't want to miss out on!
Practices began for Utah Valley Women's Lacrosse over Summer 2021. Summer practice prepared the athletes for their team tryout in September 2021. As tryouts were going decisions had to be made to make a strong and competitive team. Not all players that tried out made the team, one of the biggest factors of making UVU team was attitude. UVU thrives on changing the player's mindset to focus on pure fundamentals and believing in themselves. With changing the players mindset they enter the new season with UVU Coaches altering their approach to practice plans and games.
Fall 2022 Utah Valley played every game with heart, intensity and skill. With a big win over Utah State University in overtime by 1 point. Leaving that game 10-9. With that win under their belt, they pushed every practice to improve. There's a process when coaching a team; each drill leads up the next one, progressing the fundamentals of the games. Spending time on the field is important but UVU takes practice indoors to watch game film, study the plays, take notes to improve and grow their game.
Utah Valley University's roster is different from their past year, with 9 returning players from Spring of 2021. Left the door open for new talent to come, one player from Kenya, six Freshmen from across the state, 1 player who has never played and a few transfer students from other Universities. To play on Utah Valley Women’s Lacrosse, you have to be a full-time student 12 credits.
“Our team No. 1 priority is for every player to earn their degree, schoolwork comes first! We're ready! We're excited! We beat Utah State twice, we hosted our first-ever tournament, and beat everyone: Air Force Academy, Weber State, and Boise State. We played BYU twice and lost both times but the last one was 10-9, and I think we opened everyone's eyes and let everyone know we are here to play competitive college lacrosse. “
Starting out this Spring season with a tremendous amount of support from UVU the team was able to buy/make new equipment and host High School girls clinics. With UVU supporting the team they are now able to be treated by the University's Athletic Trainers. These new resources bring bigger opportunities.
February 17th-20th - Santa Barbara Shootout Tournament vs Boise st., California State Fullerton, and TBA.
March 4th-5th - Utah Invitational Tournament at UVU vs Weber St, Wyoming, Colorado School of Mines and Denver University.
March 12th vs BYU @ BYU
March 26th vs UNLV @ UNLV
April 9th vs NNU in Meridian, Idaho
April 15th-16th - RMWLL Regionals @ Utah State University
May 3rd-7th NATIONALS @ Red Rock, Texas
Also, the Wolverines are hosting two opportunities to meet the staff and play this week! The first is on January 20 and is a Girls High School Prospect Day. The second is on January 21 and is a shooting and goalie clinic. Updates/additional information will be shared on Instagram @uvuwomenslacrosse.
That’s it for us! Stay safe out there.