When Marissa Agrimson came to her cousin, Lauren O'Brien, asking her to help start up a girls lacrosse team at Southwest Christian, neither knew just two years later it would be a varsity sport in 2019.

After two years of training and some JV matches, the Chaska school promoted the sport to varsity level this spring, one year after the boys program did so.

And while the results have been lopsided at times, the opportunity greatly outweighs anything a scoreboard may reflect.

"Marissa has been such a catalyst with this team. She's done so much to get us to this point. I think that first year we started it, we thought, 'Oh, this will be fun,' but we saw where we were at and it was farther along than we expected. I can see the trajectory of where this program is going and it's exciting to be a part of, and know where it will be someday," said O'Brien, a captain.

MOVING UP

O'Brien, of Chanhassen, didn't expect the program to make the move to varsity in her senior year. She thought that might come in Agrimson's final year at the high school.

When the decision was made, though, she, like the other girls on the team, were excited at the prospect.

"I'm not sure any of us knew what playing a varsity schedule was going to be like. I think we all thought let's go out there and do our best. That first match I'm not sure we were quite ready. I think we came out (May 13) more prepared and it shows how we have grown as a team. I think we better understand what it takes to play at this level now," O'Brien said.

Developing a lacrosse program takes time. Offensive and defensive systems can take years to grasp for players only in the sport on the high school team.

With so many new girls out for the sport the last two seasons, it's about stressing the basics. It's about daily improvement.

Beaten 9-8 in the season opener at St. Croix Prep, the rematch on May 13 showed the strides.

Southwest Christian found its top scorers -- Kyra Sandness with five goals, Agrimson with four more -- in a 13-9 win.

O'Brien, Sophie Hitchkiss, Kami Czech, and Lauren Walmer also had tallies for the Stars. Czech added two assists with a team-high seven balls.

"It's been a long time coming. We've put a lot of work in and I think we're all super excited to see that come to fruition. And see our hard work pay off. I'm really proud of how everyone played," O'Brien said.

How good a win felt, it's maybe more important how the Southwest Christian team feels following a loss. Part of building a program is keeping things moving forward when results such as the week of May 7-11 happen.

Southwest Christian, in losses to Hutchinson, Minneapolis, Holy Family Catholic, and Woodbury, were outscored 69-10.

"I'm not going to lie, it's hard sometimes. It's difficult to lose, but I think what has kept us together, what has kept us fighting, is the relationships we have with each other. We're a close-knit team and we're all pretty good friends, so when you're going through losses, you can crack a joke, you can motivate each other with a light-hearted moment, O'Brien said.

"There's the right time for that, and there's the right time to put the work in and that's a good balance that's been beneficial to our season," she added.

Southwest Christian, now 1-9 overall after falling to Bloomington Kennedy May 15, is scheduled for two more matches on May 17 at Owatonna and a JV contest against another new program in New Prague on May 20.

FINAL MINUTE VICTORY

A tight match throughout, tied at six at halftime, Southwest Christian scored twice over the final 63 seconds in a 14-13 win over Holy Family Catholic on May 13.

Mason Schindeldecker, one of 11 seniors on the roster for the Stars, scored the tying goal at 13-13.

A turnover in the Stars' zone, Southwest Christian moved the ball in transition, junior Enoch Flint picking up a loose ball, splitting two Fire defenders for the game-winner with 19 ticks on the clock.

"I picked up the ball and my first instinct was to shoot," Flint said. "We had lost a few games in a row, so getting a win like this, it's helpful."

Holy Family Catholic won the face-off and got a look in the final seconds, but was unable to convert, a block from Stars defenseman Oliver Baklund.

Holy Family Catholic goals from Ryan Burke and Lucas Witczek in the fourth quarter gave them the 13-12 lead.

Will Swanson scored four times with Kellen Baklund adding a hat trick for the Fire. Lucas Rice, Lucas Lembke and Devon Noethe-Wilson also found the net for Holy Family Catholic, which trailed by as many as three goals in the second half.

For the Stars, in year No. 2 of a varsity program, the skills are improving and it shows in matches such as that.

"I really think if you look at our fundamentals this year, we're a lot farther ahead. We're playing a tougher schedule, playing right with teams, so I feel like we've come a long way," Flint said.

Southwest Christian (3-6), coming off a loss to Chaska on May 14, is at Blake School at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 16.

"Hopefully this win, with (two) more games this week, hopefully can swing the momentum back to us," Flint said.

Holy Family Catholic hosts Orono at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 16.

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