While the west was not the most represented in the POWERADE FAB 50 last season, the talent and coaching out in the region continues to improve and 2012 could see more teams enter the rankings.
Colorado has several teams that will look to put their name on the championship trophy by season's end and California also has several strong contenders, including last year's FAB 50 No. 46 St. Ignatius Prep (San Francisco).
California and Colorado may have the early rights to potential FAB 50 ranking potential due to the several interstate games, Utah could vie for consideration when Alta (Sandy, Utah) takes on the Colorado state runner-up from last year, Air Academy (USAF Academy, Colo.).
The Starting Lineup
(Position: athlete, year, high school (city, state), college commitment)
G: Meganne Weissenfels, Sr., Coronado (Calif.), undecided
G: Hannah Sieger, Sr., Rancho Bernardo (San Diego), Virginia Tech
D: Molly Erdle, Sr., Mullen (Denver), Boston College
D: Stephanie Guerra, Jr., Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Colo.), Robert Morris
M: Madison Khanna, Sr., Mullen (Denver), Johns Hopkins
M: Emma Lazaroff, Sr., Centarus (Lafayette, Colo.), Duke
M: Michaela Michael, Jr., Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.), USC
M: Lizza Strazza, Sr., Kent Denver (Englewood, Colo.), Florida
A: Samantha Collins, Sr., Pinnacle (Phoenix), Ohio State
A: Kylie Drexel, Jr., Davis (Calif.), USC
A: Lucy Mower, Sr., Kent Denver (Englewood, Colo.), Vermont
A: Courtney Valdez, Sr., Foothill (Santa Ana, Calif.), Oregon
Sizing Up The Region
Arizona: Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.) returns sophomore Scarlett Sulliman, who scored a crucial goal in the state championship game and helped the Firebirds to their second straight Division I state championship. Horizon (Scottsdale, Ariz.) returns five starters from it's 12-2 team and should boast a strong defense with sophomore Sydney Duke and goalie Tori Hawk. Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, Ariz.) looks to defend its Division II championship. The Saints may be one of the best turnaround stories in high school lacrosse. After winning two games in its first four years as a program, coach Laraine Pizzi has led the team to 23 wins over the last two seasons.
California: Carondelet (Calif.) returns nine starters from the North Coast CIF I champions and is riding an 18-game winning streak. Brown commit Kerianne Hunt returns to the midfield. Carondelet boasts a tough schedule this year with games against several of the top teams in Colorado, including the defending state champions, Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Colo.). Coronado (Calif.) returns six starters from the San Diego CIF II championship team. The 2012 team will be young with several sophomores and juniors expected to see significant playing time. Senior goalie Meganne Weissenfels returns in goal to provide stability on defense. Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.) returns nine starters from an 18-6 team, including USC commit Michaela Michael at midfield. Also returning is Dartmouth commit, Sophie Sheeline at attack. Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) welcomes a familiar face as its new head coach with the hiring Chelsea Barrow. The first year head coach has been with the program for four seasons and takes over a team that returns seven starters from last season's 21-2 team. ESPNHS No. 20 goalie Hannah Sieger returns along with three returning starters on defense. St. Ignatius Prep (San Francisco) finished 17-1 and ranked as the No. 1 team in California by ESPNHS last season. The Wildcats graduated its top three scorers and the starting goalie from that team, but return sophomore Kate Mattimore, who scored 30 goals last season. Kaitlin Swagart enters her second season as head coach atTorrey Pines (San Diego) after leading the team to the San Diego Division I CIF last season. Seven starters return, including defenders Kiana Drawhorn and Sarah Poteet.
Colorado: Air Academy (USAF Academy, Colo.) finished as state runners-up last season and return Denver Post All-Colorado first team member Miranda Beal. The senior attacker was fifth in the state with 98 points last season. Also returning is senior Kenzie Baer. Centaurus (Lafayette, Colo.) returns Duke commit Emma Lazaroff who led the state with 142 points (111 goals, 31 assists) last season. Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Colo.) has won the last two state championships, but graduated three players who earned Denver Post All-Colorado first team honors, including Player of the Year Bailey Zerr. The good news is the Bruins only graduated six players from that team and return first team selection Anya Gersoff, who totaled 114 points (84 goals, 30 assists), along with honorable mention juniors Mara Bandt-Law and Elsie Humer along with sophomore Blair Sisk. J.K. Mullen (Denver, Colo.) returns seven starters and should boast a strong offense with the return of midfielders Molly Erdle (Boston College) and Madison Khanna (Johns Hopkins). Kent Denver (Englewood, Colo.) returns two seniors who earned All-Colorado First Team honors last season: Lucy Dikeou (70 goals, 28 assists) and Lucy Mower (27 goals, 24 assists). Also returning is senior goalie Kristen Kolberg, who played in nine games and recorded 72 saves. Billy Corbett takes over as head coach at Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.) this season. Four players are committed to Division I colleges: Catherine Blumhardt (Oregon), Courtney Gielow (Cal), Emi Smith (Penn State) and Erin Sungelo (Yale).
Idaho: Bishop Kelly (Boise, Idaho) has won three straight state championships and return seven starters from last year's 16-2 team. Six of the returning starters have been playing on the varsity team since their sophomore year. The Knights will have new head coaches this season with Kevan Grant and Elise Talboy taking over for JoJo Brunelle.
Oregon: Lake Oswego (Ore.) returns eight starters from the state championship team, including Coastal Carolina commit Paige Timberg. Oregon City (Ore.) returns seven starters and most of its defense from last year's state runners-up. Senior attacker and Colorado Mesa commit Alyssa Albrich leads the offense.
Utah: Alta (Sandy, Utah) has won three straight state championships and returns six starters from last year's team. The sideline will look different this year as Jeff Gorringe takes over as head coach.
Washington: Bainbridge Island (Wash.) returns six starters from last year's undefeated Division I state championship team. Junior goalie Maddie Stevenson is a three-year starter and is receiving heavy interest from several Division I programs. Ballard (Seattle) returns six starters and should be strong in the midfield with juniors Jessica Bryan, Julia Hanson and Sophie Mora. Bellevue East (Bellevue, Wash.) returns 10 starters from last year's Division II state championship team. The 2012 team is expected to have a potent attack with the return of its top three goal scorers. Bellevue returns four players who were first Team all-state: Elena Becker, Kayla Miller, Camille Sullivan and Sophie Wolz. Evergreen (Vancouver, Wash.) enters its second season as a varsity program and returns five starters. Senior Jocelyn Cole returns to the midfield. Issaquah (Wash.) finished 7-5-1 last season and returns eight starters, including its entire defense. Lakeside (Seattle) returns six starters, including seniors Sarah Drucker (attack) and Emily Kim (defense). Lake Sammamish (Redmond, Wash.) returns 10 starters from last year's 3-1 team. Offense should be a team strength with senior attackers Allison Clement and Zoe Escard. Roosevelt (Seattle) returns seven starters, including senior Meredith Harris.
Games To Watch
March 26: Cherry Creek (Colo.) at Menlo School (Calif.)
March 30: Alta (Utah) at Air Academy (Colo.)
April 10: Carondelet (Calif.) vs. Cherry Creek (Colo.)
Underclassmen To Watch
Attack: Haley Mincin, Jr., Issaquah (Wash.); Annie Schindler, Soph., J.K. Mullen (Colo.).
Midfield: Camille Doan, Soph., Torrey Pines (Calif.); Kacey McKinnnon, Soph., Torrey Pines (Calif.); Kayla Miller, Jr., Bellevue East (Wash.); Emily Mincin, Jr., Issaquah (Wash.); Ella Stapp, Jr., J.K. Mullen (Colo.); Camille Sullivan, Soph., Bellevue East (Wash.).
Defense: Elena Becker, Jr., Bellevue East (Wash.); Sydney Duke, Soph., Horizon (Ariz.).
Goalie: Tori Hawk, Soph., Horizon (Ariz.); Hannah Rubin, Jr., Menlo School (Calif.); Maddi Stevenson, Jr., Bainbridge Island (Wash.); Laura Voss, Jr., Issaquah (Wash.).
How This Region Affects The FAB 50
Two teams from the west finished last season in the POWERADE FAB 50: Cherry Creek and St. Ignatius Prep. Colorado should earn at least one bid during the early part of the season from voters, but whether that will be Cherry Creek or one of the other viable contenders from The Centennial State will likely depend on Creek's early games against some of the top teams from California.
Speaking of California, the Golden State was up in the air for much of the season as teams continually beat up on one another. In the end, St. Ignatius finished 2011 as the No. 1 team by ESPNHS, but 2012 could once again come down to the end of the season.