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The Crusaders boast a lethal combination of young and veteran talent, but it's their chemistry that makes them elite.

COURTESY PHOTO - The Jesuit girls lacrosse team is built on team chemistry and empowerment, and is poised for another exceptional season this year.Four games, four wins for the Jesuit High School girls lacrosse team.

But lacrosse at the private school in Beaverton is about more than wins and losses for head coach Lauren Blumhardt — it's about growth, teamwork, and maturity, and how those things will help her girls both on and off the field of play.

"One of our key themes every year is this idea of female empowerment," Blumhardt said. "We recognize our girls are bigger than just a lacrosse player. So, we really want to cultivate who they are as a whole person and help them grow."

The Crusaders return 18 of their 22 players from last year's team, which lost but one game and finished the season with a triple-overtime win over Lincoln in the final of the "culmination week" double-elimination tournament to end the year.

But in addition to the returning players, Jesuit welcomes a wealth of new talent this season, something Blumhardt has had the pleasure of balancing prior to and throughout the early portion of the year — with the help of her team.

"To us this is a family, and the idea of acceptance is a big thing," Blumhardt said. "This team is committed to one another. Playing with a big team feels like having more people on your roster in life. The more people in your corner, the better off you are."

Returning leaders for Jesuit include junior goalkeeper Sydney Partovi, who recently committed to attend and play lacrosse for the University of California at Berkeley, and the team's captains: seniors Karis Huh, Parker House and Kiana Santiago, whom Blumhardt said are all "phenomenal leaders." Additionally, the coach mentioned a stable of highly talented juniors including attacker Piper Daskalos, defender Mason Young, and in the midfield, Tessa Randall, who missed a chunk of games last year due to injury but is poised for "exciting things" this season.

COURTESY PHOTO - Jesuit junior Tessa Randall during the Crusaders' culmination game with Lincoln to end last season. Randall is a key contributor to this year's Jesuit team.Among the newcomers, Blumhardt mentioned Gigi Abernethy as one of a talented group of freshmen from whom she said she's already seen great things over the team's first handful of games.

"She's awesome," the coach said. "She's not quite a starter yet, but she's really speedy, is unbelievably athletic, and it's really hard to get her off the field."

Blumhardt said the strength of this year's team is without a doubt their chemistry. She said they rely on each other, trust each other and support one another, taking communication to an entirely different level.

"They all listen to what our team needs and understand where we want to go and the standard we want to set," Blumhardt said. "That level of communication and trust is what bonds teams so, so well."

It was with that understanding that led Blumhardt to plan a team beach retreat prior to the season, where the coaching staff and players talked through the importance of communication and teamwork. Additionally, the coach brought outside community mentors to the retreat to speak to that same idea, with an effort to firmly drive home the tangible return on such an investment.

"There are different ways to communicate," she said. "From extroverts to introverts, people who are like our coaches to people who are so much different than I am, so we bring in different voices who have different life lessons and ideas."

Things are far from perfect, however, and Blumhardt said they have plenty to work on in order to reach their ultimate goal.

And what is that goal? Blumhardt said it's always to be empowered and to empower yourself through your play. But along with that it's to play hard to the very end — wherever that end may be.

"Our goal is to play all the way through to the last day," she said. "We haven't been able to have an actual state final since 2019. The girls are very hungry for a state title. So, while they're very excited about that opportunity, they're also very anxious and nervous … we'll work on that."


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