It took recruiting and establishing youth programs, and it took success. But this season for the first time ever, Bend boasts two girls lacrosse teams — and both are set to be reckoned with in the Oregon Girls Lacrosse Association.
A year after posting a 13-3 record, capturing an OGLA South League title and advancing to the second round of the state playoffs, Central Oregon Lacrosse has split into two squads: Bend, made up of players from Bend and Mountain View high schools, and Summit.
“We had so much success and there was so much excitement around girls lacrosse,” Summit co-coach Polly Purcell says, “that it just seemed natural we create another team.”
Purcell, who along with Kate Fleming head up the Storm after guiding the combined Central Oregon Lacrosse squad last season, estimates a few more than 50 girls playing lacrosse between the two Bend teams. That growth has stemmed from success. And if this season’s crop of talent is any indication, that rise should only continue.
The Storm boast five all-league players from last season’s Central Oregon Lacrosse squad, including first-teamers Cayley Allan, Lauren Gallivan, Kalie McGrew and Kelsey Norby. For Bend, midfielder Allie Rockett leads the way after being named to the all-South League second team last season, and freshman Joren Fettig has risen to a role of captain midway through the 2015 campaign.
“There is something very special to me, and to the girls I believe, in being a part of ‘the first,’” says Bend coach Carolyn Walton. “I believe that what we have created this year will withstand the test of time. … As a person who has a lot of love and gratitude for the game I am so thankful to be a part of its growth here in Bend. I think rivalry is a very fun and motivating aspect of any sport, and with the split of Summit and us, Bend United Lacrosse has been given a huge gift.”
The first intracity matchup is already in the books, a 16-5 decision for Summit on April 10 under the lights at Summit High and before a good-sized crowd. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, as the two Bend programs square off not just for city pride but as a means of sharpening skills as the rest of the state watches on.
“Historically, Bend was not on the radar for any team in Portland,” Purcell says. “Not only are we on their radar, we’re a team they have to prepare for.”