In the very first Class 4A girls lacrosse state championship, the Evergreen High School Cougars claimed their first state title on the backs of their stars: Averi Gardner, Bella Reece and Margo Miller.
Reece and Miller scored five goals apiece, Gardner added four, and the Cougars cruised past Castle View for a 19-5 victory that ended with them hoisting a trophy Wednesday night at Legacy Stadium in Aurora.
“Incredibly exciting,” Evergreen head coach Rachel Sanford said. “We had a great season and this kind of tops it off. We have eight seniors graduated already and to end with a state championship, the first year in 4A, is really unbelievable.”
Gardner and Reece, both sophomores, entered the championship with 43 and 41 goals, respectively, this season while Miller had 42 as one of the Cougars’ senior leaders. Together, they combined for 14 goals in a championship-worthy performance for Evergreen (11-2).
“Bella and Averi, they are studs,” said Miller, who’s signed to play for Cornell next fall. “I’m so excited to see what they do with this program in the future. They were a huge asset this year.”
Miller kicked things off for Evergreen, picking up the first goal to take the 1-0 lead, but Castle View immediately answered with a goal courtesy of sophomore Riley Schultz.
That was the last time Castle View was able to tie things up, however, as Evergreen went on a tear the rest of the half with 13 straight goals for a 14-2 lead at halftime. Gardner had four goals and Miller had four of her own during the game-breaking run.
They did it unselfishly, typically finding the open teammate for the final pass and easy goals. Four different Cougars had multiple goals in the first half.
The Evergreen goalkeeper, senior Lauren Spence, came up with some big saves on the other end. Spence signed to play lacrosse at Loyola (Maryland) next season. The Cougars got contributions from their underclassmen, but it is their seniors who have been their rock for the duration of the season.
“They really helped put the program on the map,” Sanford said about her seniors. “They’ve played together, a lot of them, since they started picking up sticks, so there’s just natural chemistry and a lot of friendship and they brought a lot of leadership.”
Castle View scored a few goals in the second half to close the gap on the scoreboard, but the Cougars had already done too much damage for the Sabercats to put a scare into them.
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