Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Archive for July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021 — United States Coach of the Year for lacrosse: Rachel Sanford, Aurora Evergreen (Colo.)

As the story goes, when Rachel Sanford took over as head coach of Evergreen High School in Aurora, Colo., she walked the halls of the school and took a look at the trophy wall at the school and noted the lack of hardware for girls’ lacrosse.

“One day,” she told her team, “you are going to be state champs.”

That prophesy became reality in 2021 as Evergreen, playing a confident and high-octane variety of lacrosse, plowed through the Colorado High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A bracket like a wood-chipper. Evergreen, the No. 1 seed, sent all of its tournament games to the running clock, beating Lakewood Green Mountain (Colo.) 15-5, Loveland Thompson Valley (Colo.) 17-5, then bested Castle Rock Castle View (Colo.) 19-5 in the championship final.

The championship represented the first time a girls’ lacrosse team from Jefferson County had ever won a state lacrosse title. And it wasn’t easy. The Cougars only had 15 players on their roster this season.

“Everybody got a lot of playing time,” Sanford says. “Having a smaller team means that everybody can get in there and get a lot of playing time. We have to rotate everybody through so that not only can we play a fast game, but we have enough legs for the next game.”

The strategy worked. The Cougars went 11-2 on the season, spreading out scoring so that three players on the side — Margo Miller, Bella Reece, and Averi Gardner — had 40 goals each on the season.

Sanford is a decorated player who has won a U-19 World Cup as a player, is a member of the Connecticut High School Hall of Fame, and played with distinction at Duke University. Since graduation, she’s shown a remarkable affinity for coaching. She has started her own career coaching firm in Colorado as well as working with a consulting firm.

And now, the success with Evergreen, which came after the team dropped its first two games of the season, but won the last 11 to take the 4A title.


Thomas Brandel, Sykesville Liberty (Md.): Got the Lions to their first state championship appearance since 2001 and won the Class 1A state final over Fallston (Md.)

John Dwyer, Wilmette Loyola Academy (Ill.): Coming out of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Ramblers may have had their best team ever, winning all 25 games on their schedule

Kristina Gagnon, Brooklandville St. Paul’s (Md.): The Gators not only won the IAAM “A” title in 2021, but also beat rival McDonogh twice, which is a remarkable feat

Kristin Igoe Guarino, Franklin (Mass.): The former U.S. women’s national team player coached her Franklin side to within one win of a state championship

Ashley Inman, Poway (Calif.): The former Oregon star had a rough start to the 2021 season, losing three of four, but had a memorable late-season run through the CIF San Diego Open Tournament

Ron LaFrance, Fort Covington Salmon River (N.Y.): The coach, who doubles as Chief of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, has been not only able to get the most out of the Shamrocks in 2021, but also steered them to a Section X championship

Dana Lenneper, Tinton Falls Trinity Hill (N.J.): Has taken this program, which has only been around since 2014, to the state Non-Public “B” title, and fought a tremendous three-part battle with conference rival Rumson-Fair Haven

John McClain, Delray American Heritage (Fla.): Despite losing a one-in-a-lifetime player to graduation, the Stallions were able to win the state championship, beating a number of amazing teams along the way

Carol Rose, Northport (N.Y.): Despite the weight of expectations and a tough county schedule, the team went undefeated and won the Long Island Class “A” title

Gianna Spinelli, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.): First-year head coach was able to motivate the Royals to a repeat performance as Tournament of Champions trophy-winners

Kristin Woods, New Canaan (Conn.): Playing a tough league schedule, the Rams defeated Darien (Conn.) twice in the regular season before losing in the state tournament, one which Darien would eventually win