The Oregon Elite girls lacrosse team, made up of some of the top high school players from around the state, recently returned from a successful trip to Maryland where it garnered a 2-2 record and a fifth place finish against some highly competitive teams.
Three players from Lake Oswego High School and three from Lakeridge High School made the team, turning crosstown rivals into teammates.
For the Lakers, Evan Goldsmith, Amy Schlesinger and Megan Swindells made the team while, for Lakeridge, Kelly Bartz, Allie DeBruhl and Haley Fauvelle received the honor.
The Elite team is selected by an unbiased panel after open try-outs are held in mid-April and the team gets together for a few brief practices after the high school state playoffs.
This year the team practiced three times and had a scrimmage against an alumni team as it tried to quickly build chemistry before the tournament.
The team also provides a unique experience for the players who are league rivals during the spring, to become friends.
'I love working with kids from other schools. When the kids know each other those rivalries become more of a challenge for the girls,' said Coach Lauren Anderson, Lake Oswego High School's head coach. This is the sixth Elite team that Anderson has led.
In Maryland, not only did the Oregon squad face some top competition, it took on club teams that had been playing together for years as opposed to just a few short weeks.
The Elite team got off to a bit of a slow start but that was almost to be expected.
Shortly after getting off the plane and still suffering slightly from jetlag, the team took on a Midwest All-Star team and didn't put together its best game.
The Elite followed that effort with a loss to a very experienced club team from Colorado.
Sitting at 0-2 in pool play, the Elite then took on the host team from Baltimore and finally started to come together.
'Every year I think the parents are a bit surprised at just how well the team comes together,' Anderson said.
With so little time playing together, the team's chemistry improved dramatically with each game and the result was its first victory, which moved the Elite to third place in its pool.
That set up a battle for fifth place overall with the Long Island Express, which has perennially been a strong club team.
The Elite team got off to a solid start and put together its best game of the tournament as the girls continued to improve almost with each passing minute and pulled away for its second victory.
'It was definitely nice to finish with some momentum and the team really started to gel,' Anderson said.
It was a solid finish for a team from the West Coast where lacrosse is still growing in popularity.
'We're getting there. We don't have the feeding system that they have on the East Coast but we definitely have players who can compete at that level,' Anderson said.
The trip also was an opportunity for the players to be viewed by dozens of collegiate programs who wouldn't have the opportunity to see Oregon players otherwise.
'Coaches know we have a lot of talent out here and this is one of the few times they get to see it,' Anderson said.
And, with a relatively small roster, every player on the team saw a significant amount of playing time.
'It was nice this year because we had really balanced talent,' Anderson said.
The team will continue to practice together throughout the summer and is slated to play in another tournament in Pennsylvania over the Columbus Day weekend.