The first weekend of spring brought out much more than shorts, sunscreen, and City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, as collegiate women’s lacrosse and much of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Lacrosse League descended upon Utah’s McCarthey Track and Field Complex and Westminster’s Dumke Field for the 2nd Annual Salt Lake Classic. Three local universities solidified their standing in the rarefied air of the Wasatch Front’s own Top 3 ranked Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates D-I & D-II programs. “This Is the Place,” the national epicenter of WCLA lacrosse, as entering the weekend, the BYU Cougars (D-I No. 3), Utah Utes (D-II No. 2), and Westminster Griffins (D-II No. 1), were all present and accounted for, and emerged unscathed from the fray.
In town and representing the rest of the RMWLL D-II West were Utah’s own fledgling Utah State Aggies, Utah Valley Wolverines, and Weber State Wildcat squads. Traversing the Great Divide and representing the RMWLL D-II East were the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers and Wyoming Cowgirls, and cruising I-15 North were the Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) D-II South-leading UNLV Rebels.
The Ute Women kicked-off festivities by playing host to the Lady Orediggers under McCarthey’s Friday night lights. Golden’s finest quarried a 4-1 margin early, but were laboriously picked to tailings by the relentless Ute pressure, 20-6. Boise’s best and Ute freshman phenom Katie O’Neil put the Utes on the board quickly with the first of her 5 strikes in the skirmish, with super-soph Cody Rennert and junior Tracy Souvall dishing-up 4 more apiece. Rounding out the Ute’s scoring were junior Nancy Ann Little and sophomore Erica Davis’s deuces, and sophomores Taylor Dunn, Hayley Poulson, and freshman Hailey Schiff all ruffled-cord once. Dunn, Little, and sophomores Heather Hunter and Traci Shurtleff each added an assist to the evening’s point tally. Three of Rennert’s 4 were highlighted by fervent feeds from Dunn, Shurtleff, and sophomore Heather Hunter, the former received down low in traffic. Rennert added some razzmatazz with a free position goal featuring a multiple hand-switch-to-shot culminating with her left-hander. Souvall’s effort included a hard crease-roll on the left side, finishing with a farside laser top right corner over keep’s shoulder. Ute goaltender Jacklyn Amadu stood strong in her circle, as she would in facing every shot-against for the weekend, and the junior keeper set the pace for the speedy and effective Ute transitions throughout. The Oredigger Women were paced by Kaitlyn Gilbert and Kaitlyn Tripp’s deuces, and Roslyn King and Stephanie Biagioti’s aces. The Kaitlyn cabaret was underscored by Gilbert’s game opening draw-win-to-goal, and a put-back of her own rebound on another chance. Tripp added a point to her tally with a trippy helper to King from behind.
Saturday morning dawned bright and balmy for the Utes as they faced the once-beaten UNLV Rebels. The 60 degree AM sideline saw a curiously disparate display of Ute boosters in shorts and shirtsleeves, and UNLV supporters in jackets and gloves. While the Vegas contingent might have been chilled by the warm Wasatch wind, the Ute Women left no doubt that the weather was fair and their pressure was rising with a 14-10 victory over the Lady Rebels. The UNLV women were game as they came to the City of Salt to put their 8-1 record on the line against all 3 of the Beehive State’s WCLA Top 3, alas, falling short in their valiant effort to vanquish their hosts. The Ute women jumped to an 8-1 lead behind some Haley Poulson magic, beginning with the sophomore’s interception of a Rebel goalie clear, the first of her 2 INT’s in the fracas. The fiery Ute middie grabbed the UNLV outlet and left the Rebel women marking-up a ghost as she shake-and-baked the defense with multiple jukes and hand-switches concluding with her top shelf shot. Poulson proved her point with another put-back of her own rebound, then completed her hat-trick with a feed from Nancy Ann Little, off a feed from Katie O’Neil, which would have warranted a second assist if the game were hockey. O’Neil led all scorers with six points off 4 goals and 2 (real) assists, featuring a helper for one of Little’s 3 points on 2 Little lamp-lighters and Little assist, and a very vocal request from deep in the Rebel stronghold for a successful feed from freshman Katie Baker. Adding to the Ute scoring tally were sophomores: Cody Rennert with 3 points (2G, 1A), Taylor Dunn (1G), Traci Shurtleff (1G), and Erica Davis’ nice left-hander rounding out the stat sheet. Ute junior defenders Katie Tillou, Baylee Fox, Tracy Souvall, and senior Marissa Siegrist stood strong against the Rebel’s counter, led by UNLV redshirt graduate middie Katy Wieser’s hat-trick, sophomore Ashley Jean and junior Marie Mills’ doulies, and junior Michelle Steinhoff and senior Chelsey Bradshaw’s aces. Rebel senior Katie Bane added an assist as did Bradshaw with 2, including a fine feed for the Rebel’s final volley by senior Milia Heen for Heen’s hole in one.
Next-up for the Utes were the Ladies from Laramie. The Wyoming Cowgirls came to Salt Lake looking to lasso their 3-3 record and race around the barrels in the proper direction. The Utah women pulled the reigns on the Cowgirls and bucked to a 17-10 decision. Poulson put the Utes on the board quickly, making the most of a Little feed from behind for the first of Poulson’s 3 points (2G, 1A). Erica Davis (2G, 1A) scored next for the Utes with a lethal left-hander down low. Baby Ute freshmen led the scoring effort with Park City’s own Katie Baker (Katie 2) exploding for 4 net-benders, and Katie O’Neil (Katie 3) adding a hat-trick and a helper, featuring a pretty post-up scoring move deep in the 8 on the Cowgirl corral doorstep. The Utes displayed their own rodeo skills, galloping to a couple of fast breaks off the quick-draw, the first an O’Neil-to-Rennert run to goal, the second a Poulson to a shake-and-Baker bullseye. Also scoring for the Utes were Tracy Souvall (1G, 1A), Traci Shurtleff (2G), Nancy Ann Little (1G, 1A), and freshman Hailey Schiff (1G). Wyoming’s effort was led by attacker Rachel McConnell’s 4 goals, and Cowgirl center Jane Olsen’s hat-trick. Middie Krystle Gish dished 2 goals and aided on attacker Amelia Deuell’s coveted Cowgirl count.
The Lady Utes played their weekend’s fourth and final contest against the USU Aggie women, whom were making their team debut in Salt Lake. The Lady Aggies were gritty in their premier, but the Red tide was dominating on the draw circle with numerous Utes toeing the line, including Shurtleff, Baker, Dunn, and Schiff. The No. 2 Utes owned much of the contest’s possessions, limiting their opponent to few chances with Chele Lathroum the only woman in Blue finding a solution to Amadu, as the Utes went agro on the Aggies, 21-1. Leading the Ute scoring with 3 goals and 2 assists apiece were Rennert and Poulson, and both adding a hat-trick/helper combo were Baker and Dunn. Little added 4 points of her own (2G, 2A), and O’Neil plowed-up 2 points with a 1 and 1. Each lighting the lamp one time were Baker, Hunter, Shurtleff, Siegrist, Davis and Souvall. Game highlights included 2 of the sharper Ute quick-stick goals of the year, the first a Little-to-O’Neil one-timer, the second a Poulson-to-Dunn dinger from the southpaw’s strong-side, and Poulson finding the back of the net with a ground ball picked-up right on the Aggie entrance.
The 13-2 Ute women next travel to NoCal’s San Jose on 3/31 – 4/1 for tough games vs. three WCLA D-I squads including the Texas A&M Aggies, No. 16 Cal Poly SLO Mustangs, Sonoma State Seawolves, and the famously named Banana Slugs of UC Santa Cruz, who are no slugs on the field with a WCLA D-II No. 10 ranking.