1. Cherry Creek (Colo.), 1-0 The Bruins (18-1) continued their dominance by winning their ninth state championship with a 16-11 victory over Air Academy. Cherry Creek is the favorite to repeat with the return of All-American and Princeton recruit Anya Gersoff, who had 84 goals last season.
The Bruins started the 2012 season with a 23-2 thrashing of Grandview (Colo.).
2. St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.), 5-0 The Wildcats, ranked 25th nationally last year, lost just one game last season — a 15-10 setback at Cherry Creek. St. Ignatius lost seven starters but will reload with seniors Tess Mattimore (Skidmore), Erin Cavalier (Catholic), Erin Geraghty and Alexa Robinson, plus junior Nicole Vincelette (Cal).
After rattling off five straight wins to open 2012, St. Ignatius meets Cherry Creek on Saturday.
3. Coronado (Calif.), 3-0 Coronado has the firepower for a run at its second straight CIF championship. The Islanders (22-1) are led Martha Byrne, Mollie Privett, Caroline Carlson, Sarah Anderson, Erica Keamy and Meganne Weissenfels.
Coronado is 3-0 after registering wins over California schools Cathedral Catholic, La Costa Canyon and Westview.
4. Bainbridge Island (Wash.), 0-1 The Spartans (14-0) took home their eighth Division I state title by knocking off the five-time defending champ Lakeside. Junior goalie Maddie Stevenson, senior middie Kelsey Mackin and senior defender Grace Deery-Schmitt were first-team All-State picks last year. But the Spartans suffered a surprising 11-10 loss to Issaquah (Wash.) to open the season.
5. Carondelet (Calif.), 2-1 When Carondelet won North Coast Section Division I championship in 2011, the players and coaches knew there was more history to be made. Some top players were just sophomores. An explosive lineup features nine returning starters and includes juniors Erin Jeffery (89g, 35a), Kerianne Hunt (55g, 20a, 65 DCs), Morgan Castelein (45g, 15a, 45 GBs) and Cali Castagnola (62g, 23a). Junior goalie Katie Merritt (201 saves, .634 GAA) will lead a stout defense.
Carondelet coach Rick Jeffery said his team’s success is indicative of the way the sport has grown in Northern California over the past decade. “They have been playing lacrosse now since they were in fifth and sixth grade just like the girls on the East Coast,” he said.
After wins over Acalanes (Calif.) and Menlo School (Calif.), the Cougars lost a one-goal game to Amador Valley (Calif.).
6. Air Academy (Colo.), 2-0 Air Academy fell just short to Cherry Creek in the state championship game. Navy recruit Miranda Beal returns after finishing last season with 71 goals and 23 assists. The Kadets have outscored their first two in-state opponents by a combined score of 47-6.
7. Kent Denver (Colo.), 2-0 Kent Denver (13-5) had an impressive run to the state semifinals last season and will continue to compete with the best teams in the region. Top returning players include Lucy Mower (Vermont), Lucy Dikeou (Stanford), Lizzie Strazza (Florida), Molly Coates (Cal) and Caroline Schlegel (Cal).
The Sun Devils could be 5-0 heading into an intrastate rivalry against Carondelet on April 10.
8. Alta (Utah), 2-2 Alta (16-0) is one of the nation’s most dominant programs, winning three consecutive Division I state championships and going undefeated in each of those seasons. Alta returns 12 players for 2012, including starters Malia Stephens, Regina Farley, Carly Steadmen, Shayna Hunt, Emerald Ward and Haysun Choi.
The Hawks lost back-to-back games at the season’s outset but quickly evened their record at .500.
9. Torrey Pines (Calif.), 0-0 The reigning CIF champion (18-2) lost a solid group to graduation and will rely on younger players. Sophomores Kacey McKinnon and Camille Doan should get quality minutes.
10. Lake Oswego (Ore.), 2-0 The defending state champs are young but talented. Senior Paige Timberg (Coastal Carolina) and Libby Nielsen and junior Alyssa “Dragon” Dragelin are the team’s most experienced players.
Cherry Creek (Colo.) at St. Ignatius (Calif.), March 24
The two West Coast powerhouses will play for the third time since 2009. Cherry Creek won the first matchup 19-8 in Colorado and won against last year 15-10 at St. Ignatius.
The third time could be the charm for the Wildcats. Either way, the matchup features excellent star power.
Cherry Creek has one of the region’s best players in Anya Gersoff, who had 84 goals last season and led her team to its ninth state championship. St. Ignatius has a solid core of returning players, including junior Nicole Vincelette (Cal). St. Ignatius coach Amy Harms said the key for her team is adapting to Cherry Creek’s solid stick stills and the quickness of their offense.