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Squads from Division II are working hard to make improvements

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Juliann Deus, left, of West Jordan battles with Alex Roberts of Jordan for control of a loose ball during a recent lacrosse match.

Juliann Deus, left, of West Jordan battles with Alex Roberts of Jordan for control of a loose ball during a recent lacrosse match.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News

Some girls lacrosse teams hope to compete for championships, but others have goals on a different level as the new Division II season begins to heat up.

"This year we all hope to improve our skills and play better as a team," Bountiful coach David Singer said. "We hope to appreciate the sport more as we go and to make it one of our higher priorities. We expect to do better than we have in past years and are excited to try and make that happen."

Ditto for the girls lacrosse team in Sandy.

"I have very high expectations for our team this year. We improved so much over the course of last season, and the improvement is continuing," Alta coach Megan Gorringe said. "My hopes are that we can compete with any team in the state this year and continue to build one of the top programs in Utah."

Playing with an eye on the playoffs is exactly what most teams are doing.

"If we can overcome some injuries to a few of our key players, we should be near the top," Juan Diego coach Larry Sanich said. "We had 38 athletes turn out for the team this year, and we are trying to mold them into a cohesive unit.

"They have shown steady improvement, and once we get over the injuries, we could be in position to contend for the playoffs again."

Here's a look at the girls Division II teams:

ALTA: The Hawks feature an experienced team with Brandi Cash and Karli Blum the senior leaders. Cash is an experienced goalie while Blum is a high-scoring attacker. Lindley Burton patrols the midfield while newcomers Danielle DeWaal and TaylorDunn will provide the defense a nice boost.

BOUNTIFUL: The Braves did not enjoy a lot of success in 2006 but vow to be better this time. With Brooklyn Spencer, Emily Burton and Danielle Harding forming a good front line on offense and Dru Murray and Lindsey Burton taking care of the defense, Bountiful should have the players to improve.

COPPER HILLS: A relatively new team, the Grizzlies are showing signs of improvement but will likely need a little more experience before they climb the standings too far. Coach Dovetta Flowers' squad has taken a few tough losses in the preseason but hopes those lessons pay off when the regular season gets in full swing.

EAST: The Leopards are coached by Michelle Milne and hope to improve throughout the season after a couple of rough outings against Division I teams.

JUAN DIEGO: Siena Walker, Amanda Abraham and Laura Qualey return for the Soaring Eagle and should keep Juan Diego near the top of the rankings. Addy Hienz joins the team as does Jenna Speare and Haley Poulson for coach Larry Sanich.

JUDGE MEMORIAL: The Bulldogs already have a pair of Division II wins in the books with victories over Bountiful and Weber. Coached by Jenn Williams, Judge figures to be a strong contender for a division title and a good seed in the playoffs in May.

LEHI: Year 1 of the Lehi girls lacrosse team was painful last year. But despite not winning a game, the Pioneers think they learned enough from that experience to be a much better team this year. Ausia Lauts, Allyson Allred, Amanda Sager and Traci Paz are some of the top returners and give the Pioneers hope for 2007.

RIVERTON: This is the first season for the Silver Wolves, and coach Larry Ferdig hopes his team gets experience and is competitive. Madi Jack, Kylee Frost, Sadee Hansen and AlysonOka are among the players Ferdig is relying on. They are joined in the lineup by other experienced athletes such as Dailee Perucci, McKenzie Billings and Peyton Evans.

WATERFORD: The Ravens return Callie Millington, Maddi Filloux and Maddie West in the midfield and figure to be one of the teams to beat in Division II. Allie Hoffler is one of the top newcomers on coach Alison Livingston's squad.

WEBER: Christine Lemmon leads the Warriors into battle this season as coach and hopes to see success despite a handful of painful early losses including an 11-1 division defeat at the hands of Judge.

WEST JORDAN: Twenty-six girls turned out to play for the Jaguars, and coach Roger King hopes that depth translates into victories. Hillary Balle is just a junior but is one of the top players in the division. Chelsea Stephenson, Katie Selu, Jeni Harwrd and Julieann Deus are also expected to contribute in big ways.

E-mail: jeborn@desnews.com