By Jessie Zhu and Lindsay Cronin
Photo by Jessie Zhu
Everything was on the line for the Juan Diego Catholic High School girls lacrosse team as the season came to a close. The final two games of the season, against Lone Peak and Herriman, determined the last seed in playoffs. The Soaring Eagle won both games to secure a spot as the eighth and final seed in the tournament.
“I’m proud of the fight they’ve got,” said coach Davis Mullholland. “The last two games of the season were some of the best come-from-behind and hard-fought wins that I think I’ve ever seen here at Juan Diego, so I’m very proud of that, that they dug deep and knew what they needed to do to get to the playoffs.”
The Lone Peak game showed the team’s resilience and determination. At halftime, Juan Diego was down 10-3. Despite the deficit, it pushed forward in the second half to tie up the game 11-11 forcing overtime, where the Soaring Eagle won 15-14.
“I think we all just started realizing that we were better than we had been playing through the game, and we just stepped it up,” said team captain Mara Gronseth. “We all really wanted to win, and so we put in the work that we needed to do to win the game. The whole field, from defense to midfield to attack, all stepped up and really worked to win the game.”
The chance to play in the postseason continued a recent trend for the Juan Diego girls lacrosse team. This year, it continued on that path after a tough but successful season.
This year’s seniors who led the team include Gronseth and fellow captain Ashley Tack, Danielle Beatty, goalie Alexis Womble and first-year defender Presley Azarcon. A total of 30 girls played on the team, split between varsity and JV.
Gronseth and Beatty received the honor of first-team all-state and all-conference, and Tack was named second team all-conference. The varsity team’s record this year was 7-5.
Even though the team saw its season end in the quarterfinals against Park City, Gronseth is proud of the team and their accomplishments.
“This season has been really successful,” Gronseth said. “The team has worked really hard, both JV and varsity.”
Mullholland has been coaching the girls lacrosse team at Juan Diego for 10 years. He began as the coach for the elementary and middle school teams and moved on to coach the high school team five years ago when his daughter, Maddy, started high school. Mullholland has been coaching Gronseth and Tack since they were in fourth grade.
Originally, Mullholland planned to stop coaching when his daughter graduated last year but he continued because he loves to help the girls, but also because of this year’s seniors.
“I thought that was a fun way to finish my career with all the girls I’ve coached since the beginning,” Mullholland said.
According to Gronseth, all of the girls on varsity and JV have developed a strong bond on and off the field.
“The group of girls that we played with this year was really fun,” Gronseth said. “I feel like our team was really bonded this year and we all had a lot of fun just being together and playing together.”
Mullholland has developed a close relationship with the girls on the team as well.
“(I will miss) the girls (the most),” Mullholland said. “The energy and the enthusiasm of having 24 girls come to a practice ready to play, work hard and have fun doing it is just something I will definitely miss. I can be exhausted throughout the day, tired and beat up, but when I come onto the lacrosse field, it cheers me up and gives me energy.”
For Gronseth, leaving her high school team will not be easy. She has made some of her best friends on the field. Not only has Gronseth become physically stronger playing lacrosse, she says she has gained mental toughness, motivation, a drive and work ethic, and improved leadership skills. She hopes more and more girls join lacrosse over the years so they can experience the joy she has had throughout her lacrosse days.
“It’s bittersweet leaving,” Gronseth said. “I’m going to try out for the team in college, so hopefully lacrosse will still be a part of my life. It’s going to be different going into a whole new realm of the lacrosse world. I’m really excited.”
Juan Diego Catholic High School sophomore Jessie Zhu (sophomore) and junior Lindsay Cronin (Speaking Eagle sports editor) wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah/Nu Skin student journalism program.