By: Natalie Eaton
Jenks Ladies Lacrosse’s season has officially come to an end, after an impressive and record-breaking season. With all of the craziness thrown at sports this year, through COVID, contact tracings, and ice storms, the Lady Trojans managed to pull off a fantastic season filled with win streaks, very little deficits, and a state championship title.
After the pandemic cut their season short last year, the team has looked for ways to improve and to reach the overall goal of getting the state title.
Jenna Williamson (10) celebrating a goal with her team
Head Coach, Chuck Porter, who was recently named Coach of the Year by other coaches in the district, is ecstatic over his new team of girls and what they bring to the table.
“This is the first time in Jenks Lacrosse that we’ve had such a talented group of girls that just truly care about the sport and each other,” says Porter. “Everybody on our starting lineup has totally stepped up and come together as a team, which is what we have been trying to create since last year when the season got cut short.”
Most importantly, the connections between the players are what Porter is most proud of. Out of all 16 games this season, the ladies only lost one game against Bentonville, (who they later played in the state championship). Porter notes their team was down three girls, and was still winning throughout the whole game until the other team made two quick goals. Even from a single loss, the girls were “itching to play Bentonville again in the future,” and come back together as a team and regroup.
Ally Forbes (10), a mid field center, agrees that the connections between all of the girls this year was the biggest factor for their successful season.
“The team connection this year is so different than it has ever been, everyone is friends and no one dislikes each other,” says Forbes. “Connecting very well helps us win these games. It’s a team sport, not a single player sport, so you have to have a team mindset.”
While the year was a bit restricting for team bonding, and normal get-togethers cancelled, the ladies managed to pull off ways to get closer and build friendships with one another. Forbes notes that one of her favorite memories of the season were travel meets, and belting out songs in the car. Looking up to seniors like Caroline Pruner (12), pre-game rituals of drinking celsius (a fitness drink that boosts energy for performance), praying before games, and participating in “teach me how to dougie,” led by team captain Izzy Nguyen (12), attributed to the team’s winning mentality.
Another huge factor for the Lady Trojans success was all of the new additions to the team. Many of the freshman that joined this year had never played before. Forbes was excited to see that the new players were all super outgoing, and all brought a different vibe. “If we did not have them we would not be like what we are now.”
One new player who notably shined this season is freshman midfielder Sarah Loehrke (9), who has been playing since the fourth grade with some of the girls currently on the roster. The only freshman with a starting position on the varsity team, Loehrke is helping motivate newcomers and help better the group of girls.
“We worked so hard this season, we would run miles together as a team, and come to practice determined to get better and improve our skills,” says Loehrke. “I think something that the team does really well is that during practices we do a lot of team collaboration, and when we go to varsity games, everybody goes, it is not just one person making the goal.”
Loehrke, who plays the mid-field position primarily, gets prepared for games with three key words: “Teamwork, effort, and concentration.” Listening to hype music and working with her team whenever they have a good pass or score helped motivate her through the season.
Focus and connecting with other teammates became more important than ever when Jenks headed into the state championship game against Bentonville. With tension between the two teams from the last matchup, Loehrke knew her team was fired up and ready for the challenge.
“There was definitely a lot of competitive nature going on there,” says Loehrke. “The first game, one of our girls, Analyn Papineau (9), tore her ACL, and they beat us. She was out for the rest of the season, and we were frustrated from the loss and the fouls happening, so this game there was a lot of stress leading up to it.”
Macy Hallama (11) just joined the team after moving from Connecticut to Tulsa last summer, and plays attack and midfield. She believes that the main thing that helped with the stress being thrown at them was focusing on the positives. She thinks that working as a “family” was the biggest key to success, after seeing other teams in their conference seem to get mad and frustrated at each other.
Working as a family became the number one priority as the championship game progressed.
“I accounted for one of the yellow cards at the beginning of the game,” says Hallama. “We were getting stressed out and were wanting the ball back so bad so that Bentonville could not score, and it was resulting in dumb mistakes and hurting other girls. We had to communicate even more and work harder for the three players who were not on the field at the end of the game.”
Bentonville closed in on the Jenks ladies in the second half of the game. Bentonville would score, Jenks would respond with a goal, and then the team would call the defense back to the side and talk about what happened, with small discussions like “they were coming and we didn’t slide quick enough.” Having these small talks between plays helped the girls regroup, because as Hallama explains, “even if we were up by a point, if everyone gets more frustrated we will get more fouls.”
“We do not like trash talk, and being fake and cocky, and that resulted in being even more fired up in wanting to beat them,” Hallama says.
After a close game of ups and downs, the Jenks ladies pulled through in the fourth quarter and put up two last minute scores. It was over, the Lady Trojans Lacrosse team won. With the win over Bentonville, the team was granted their first ever state title for the girls program.
“I can see why this is the first win for the girls team, ” says Loehrke. “The team this year was so tight knit, and was so focused on winning and improving, and I think that is why we won this year.”
Pictures from the State Championship game against Bentonville