Chaparral-Ponderosa girls lacrosse senior duo maintaining success
Ever since Chaparral’s co-op girls lacrosse team lost to Denver East in the first game of the season, it has refused to do so since.
Chaparral High School girls lacrosse, which includes players from Ponderosa, Legend and Elizabeth high schools, has mounted a 6-1 start on the season including a 19-2 win over Douglas County on April 12 in Castle Rock.
The Chaparral-Ponderosa hybrid has built a tradition of success over the past few years, and despite only having two seniors this season in Rachel Baines and Kirby Leyshon, the Wolverines co-op still has no problem getting the ball in the cage.
Even in its loss against East in March, Chaparosa, which is what the team has affectionately been called in the past, had put up scores in double digits in every game of the season, including the win over the Huskies.
“I think this is probably one of the best teams I’ve ever been on,” Baines said. “We really play for each other.”
Baines started in lacrosse in second grade. With an older sister who played and a dad, Dix Baines, who started the girls lacrosse programs at Douglas County and Chaparral, Rachel Baines’ exposure to the sport led her to take part.
“I love that it’s so fast-paced and a team-oriented game,” she said. “It’s so fast and high scoring.”
Leyshon, Baines’ best friend, began playing her freshman year. Her father and older brother also played, and she decided to make it something new for her that year. She also enjoys the team aspect of the game and the success one can have both as an individual and part of a roster.
Being the only seniors, Baines and Leyshon felt a leadership responsibility was falling on them this season long before the opener against the Angels.
“We’ve been preparing for it for a long time,” Leyshon said. “We knew this was coming, but it’s not an upper classmen-under classmen thing.”
The team’s leadership also rests in the hands of a few juniors.
“It’s been cool to see all of us grow throughout the season,” Baines said.
A team’s success doesn’t only come from chemistry, goal scoring, strong defense and transition. Baines said confidence also is important, and for the two seniors, they will do anything to boost that confidence.
Baines said she comes with a list of pregame and game-day superstitions. She can never wear the same color ponytail tie for consecutive games. She also has to wear red socks during each game, and on every game day, Baines refuses to make her bed in the morning.
Recently, Leyshon started kissing each goal at the end of the field.
“It makes us feel successful and adds confidence,” Baines said.
The two seniors, who work together at a Baskin-Robbins, also serve as mentors for incoming freshmen at Chaparral High School and are heavily focused in academics. Baines has been offered an academic scholarship to Utah State College, where she plans on playing club lacrosse. Leyshon is eyeing Colorado College but isn’t ruling out other universities in the state.
As for their team success in high school, the duo said they play for the others on the field with them, and that a goal scored by one of their teammates feels just as good as scoring it themselves.
“There’s nothing better than the feeling of succeeding,” Leyshon said.
“It’s nice to know you’ve contributed in some way,” said Baines, who scored five goals against Douglas County.
To incoming freshmen who may be thinking of girls lacrosse as an outlet, both seniors say go for it, even if there’s no knowledge of the sport.
“You’re only in high school once,” Baines said. “You may be better than you think. We’ve had girls who have never played before and became a stud.”
“I gave it a try, and now it’s the love of my life,” Leyshon said. “Worst-case scenario, if you don’t like it, you can always try something else.”