RipTides lacrosse forms winning squad with players from both local schools
The Peninsula School District RipTides, a girls lacrosse team that includes players from both local high schools, used team chemistry and an aggressive style to win their league. Now they head into the state tournament on a hot streak.
The RipTides (8-3-1 overall, 6-0 league) employed a suffocating defense and constant ball movement to overwhelm second-place Bellermine Prep and win their second consecutive Washington Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association championship with a thrilling 11-5 victory on April 29.
Goals and face-offs
Led by senior captains Eleah Ho and Anna Caplinger, the RipTides outscored their league opponents by an impressive 99-30 margin in six games.
Ho, a senior, scored 39 goals during the season and had 65 draw controls to lead her team by a wide margin.
In lacrosse, a face-off determines who gets possession of the ball after each score. Having a player like Ho, who uses her quick hands to earn draw controls, has been paramount to the RipTides’ success.
In an earlier game versus Stadium, Ho showed her versatility by scoring five goals on just seven shots with seven draw controls to keep possession for the RipTides.
Caplinger leads the team in goals with 50. She is a tall, aggressive player who uses her length and height to overpower defenders.
Caplinger is also capable at winning draw controls, with 24 during the season. She scored five goals on six shots versus Stadium and showed her athleticism by scooping up six loose balls on the run for RipTide possessions.
State tournament begins
The duo will be counted on heavily in the postseason for the RipTides, who were seeded ninth in the state tournament. They will face eighth-seeded Eastlake High School at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, in Sammamish.
Many team members have played together since elementary school and feel their team chemistry is one of their strengths. The RipTides are a unique team that combines players from schools that are usually rivals.
Caplinger feels that the combination has brought a synergy that produced a close-knit team.
“I love my teammates,” she said. “It is a great environment to play in. It’s super positive, supportive and without the toxicity or cliques that some other teams sometimes have.”
Ho feels like the RipTides have always been one team, much like the greater communities of Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula.
“All the girls love to be with each other,” she said. “We have a really great team atmosphere and we’ve always been one.”
Maddie Lancaster is the RipTides’ head coach, assisted by Jen Caplinger and Marla Klipper. “She’s super encouraging, steady and reliable,” Ho said of Lancaster.
Lancaster’s team is a defensive power, allowing only five goals per league contest. Grace Abrigo was all over the field in a recent 16-12 victory over Puyallup, intercepting passes, throwing her body around and bird-dogging offensive players.
“I have grown up playing defense in every other sport and it has carried over into lacrosse,” she said. “I have a very defensive mind and being able to read players on the field is one of my strong suits.”
She also enjoys the melding of players from two schools: “our team chemistry is great, when we get together our rivalry disappears and we all just come together as one.”
Goalie Courtney Meyers anticipates her opponents’ movements well and displays excellent hand-eye coordination. She routinely starts the RipTides’ fast break with crisp outlet passes.
Another standout is senior midfielder Grace Stanton, a smooth athlete who combines speed and capable stick skills. She has a tenacious style and is a glue player for the RipTides with eight goals and five assists. Stanton is second on the team in both ground ball possession recoveries, with 26, and draw control possessions, with 30.
“I think the key to beating Eastlake is our team bond and how we trust each other and play so well together,” Stanton said. “We know each other‘s strengths and weaknesses and we have grown a lot, I think we can win because we have worked really hard over the season to get here.”
Katie Tibbets and Faith Amidon are tied for third on the team in goals with 16 each. Amidon leads the team with 11 assists, with a few of those going to the duo of Mackenna Moloznik and Kate Holman, who each have 10 goals a piece on the season.
Captains and presidents
One area that the RipTides are especially strong in is the leadership department. Two of their three captains are the ASB presidents from both high schools: Caplinger is the Gig Harbor student body president, while Avery de Maine is the Peninsula High School ASB president.
The RipTides faced Eastlake earlier this season and were defeated 16-9 but have benefitted from playing a talented nonleague schedule and could easily surprise the Wolves with their improvement.
The RipTides are all that is right with local high school athletics, they work hard together and their team unity is evident in every thing they do. Someday both high schools will probably fill out their own teams because lacrosse is such a rapidly growing sport. But hopefully the community will always remember this group of dedicated women who forged a bond of togetherness for a sport they loved and inspired their home schools and hometown to become even closer together as well.