Armstrong Falcons search for elusive first win

Sports Editor

The Armstrong girls lacrosse team has played well to open the 2017 season, but is still searching for its first win of the year.

Armstrong senior Anne Colwell looks to push past a Coon Rapids defender and advance toward the goal during the Falcons’ 8-7 loss to the Cardinals April 26. (Sun Post staff photo by Chris Chesky)

The Falcons fell 7-6 to Anoka April 19, 8-6 to Blaine April 24, and 8-7 to Coon Rapids April 26 in its first three games, before losing 20-9 to Blake April 28.

“We’re definitely still trying to find our footing, figure out who is where,” Armstrong head girls lacrosse coach Caitlin Bishop said. “We have a lot of people that came back from last year and it seems like we have forgotten some of our basics.

“If everybody continues to do their job, I think we’ll have better success.”

Armstrong played one of its stronger games of the season April 26, against Coon Rapids.

Sophomore Mayula Chamleunsouk opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game, as Armstrong held a 4-1 lead with 14:32 left in the half.

Coon Rapids made it 4-2 score going into halftime. Armstrong was then able to take a 6-3 lead after the first three minutes of the second half.

“We were doing our jobs,” Bishop said. “That’s what happens when we play our lacrosse.

“When we stop doing that and have individuals do everything, that’s when it goes bad.”

From that point on, the game was all Coon Rapids. The Cardinals took their first lead of the game with 9:33 left and, while Armstrong threatened to tie the score late, Coon Rapids was able to hang on for the win.

“We couldn’t handle the pressure,” Senior Anne Colwell said. “They were really aggressive and we didn’t get as many calls as we were expecting.

“This is a fresh team, we have some fresh people who are still learning how to work with each other.”

Colwell and junior forward Olivia Heckt scored two goals apiece, while Maggie Hanson, Chamleunsouk and Rylee Carpentier scored one goal apiece for the Falcons. Hayley Hanson had two assists.

“The way they crashed onto me allowed me to use my speed to get around them,” Colwell said. “Otherwise my team really helped me by pulling them out.”

Heckt, who helped orchestrate the Falcons’ offense, liked what she saw from her team in the first half.

“I think our passing, our ball handling was better in the first half,” Heckt said. “Our communication and defense, too.

“I think we should have kept the same intensity we did in the first half.”

Bishop believes the Falcons didn’t follow the game plan as well as she would have liked in the second half.

“Going into the second half I think the weather was hitting us and we had a lot of people trying to do other people’s jobs and not doing their own job,” Bishop said. “That never ends well.”

With a decent chunk of the schedule yet to be played, Bishop is confident her team can turn things around if they can dedicate themselves in practice.

“You practice how you play, when you drop balls in practice you’re going to drop balls in the game,” Bishop said. “Those are turnovers in a game and that leads to goals for the other team.

“We need to continue practicing with full intensity.”

Despite the loss, Bishop said she saw her team do some positive things that she hadn’t seen them do in a game.

“I’ve seen our team get behind our goalie, Maddie Koss,” Bishop said. “She is having a phenomenal year, she had 14 saves last game and they’re finally supporting everybody on the team roster.”

With the Falcons continuing to take steps forward, Bishop knows it’s only a matter of time before Armstrong figures things out.

“We need to go back to basics and do our own job,” Bishop said. “We have to trust that everybody will do their own job, so that way we’re not trying to suffice for other people.

“We have to trust everybody on the field.”

The Falcons will take the field next to play Elk River at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 8, at Elk River High School.

Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.