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Lacrosse: New programs debut next week

Farmington's first new sanctioned sport in nine years will make its debut next Thursday afternoon when the girls lacrosse team hosts Shakopee for a scrimmage at Tiger Stadium. The boys team will play its first game the next day against Apple Valley.

Lacrosse has been played by some Farmington students as a club sport for the last several years. It was approved by the school board as a varsity program in August of 2009 after a survey found nearly 11 percent of all students would be interested in participating in the sport.

About 60 girls and 50 boys showed up when the teams reported for their first captain's practices last week. Both teams feature large groups of players returning after playing at the club level and a few players trying the sport for the first time.

"We are going to depend on leadership. We have 42 ninth and 10th graders out of about 60 trying out for the team.... Twenty-nine have at least one year of playing lacrosse," said girls coach Dan Pickens, who guided last year's girls club lacrosse team and has been an assistant coach for the Farmington girls hockey team for the last four years. "The learning curve is going to be huge. The girls are going to learn so much this year and I am very excited to see how much better we will be by the end of the year.... We would love to win a few games, but learning the skills of the sport and developing a good work ethic are more important."

Boys coach Paul Sorensen has a similar outlook going into the program's first season.

"The goals are simple: To educate them on the finer points of the game and how to win with class and how to respond to challenges in the correct manner," he said. "(The keys to a successful season) will be staying injury free, learning from our mistakes and not repeating them and growing as a team, and of course winning a few games along the way."

With experience at a premium, both teams will look for on-field leadership from the players who found the most success with last year's club teams.

On the girls side, Pickens is looking for sophomore attack wing Ally Midboe and freshman attack wing Toni Hunsinger, last year's two leading scorers, to set the pace. Sophomore center Adrienne Jolicoeur and sophomore defender Delaney Wright also bring back experience, as does what Pickens expects to be a strong senior class.

"They are all going to be great leaders, which will be necessary when starting a new program," he said.

Sorensen is looking for big contributions from the seven players who ran last week's captain's practices -- seniors Pat Haley, Nick Midboe and Derek Kuehn, junior Blair Berg and sophomores Charlie Wiereke, Mitch Collier and Trevor Howard.

Sorensen hopes successful first seasons for both the boys and girls teams will help the program grow in the future.

"The fastest growing sport in the state only will gain momentum as more and more youth programs begin to develop," he said. "Farmington is well on its way to establishing a great feeder program and it will only get better as more people become involved."