The Live Oak High girls lacrosse program was ready to make its debut in the 2020 season. But then Covid-19 hit, and the Acorns had to wait until 2021 to play their first official match. Even though the Acorns didn’t win a game—they finished 0-8—the players and coaches within the program are supremely optimistic going forward.
“I think this season went better than I could’ve expected,” coach Jordan Evanger said. “The girls did amazing. I had no athletes that had knowledge of lacrosse previous to last year so the main goal this season was to have fun, gain experience, gain an understanding of the game and get a feel for the sport.”
Optimism runs high in the program because of an expected increase in participation and experience, which should lead to wins on the field. Susan Kirchhoff, who just completed her freshman year, earned team Most Valuable Player and Most Inspirational Player honors.
A member of the school’s girls cross country team that won a Blossom Valley League West Valley Division championship this past season, Kirchoff pivoted from the Season 1 sport to lacrosse and didn’t miss a beat in goal. The incoming sophomore said this was by far her best experience playing on a sports team.
“It was a really great experience because it’s the nicest team I’ve ever been on,” she said. “Usually, the coaches I’ve had in the past yelled a lot and they got mad, but coach (Evanger) was so supportive, and I really appreciate that.”
Evanger was inspired by her players’ efforts in a season-ending 12-9 loss to Pioneer on May 28. Live Oak trailed 8-3 at halftime before making a furious comeback that ultimately fell short.
“The girls came out with so much fire after halftime,” she said. “If we had just five more minutes in that game, we would’ve been neck and neck.”
Live Oak suffered an 8-7 loss to Lincoln on May 5, its closest chance at victory. Kaitlyn Silva was a goal-scoring machine, finishing with 16 on an excellent shooting percentage of .593. The center midfielder took the majority of the team’s draws and played an integral part in the team’s possession game.
“She won our all star award and just killed it,” Evanger said. “She’s very talented and the game kind of came naturally to her. She’s very active on the field and also got nominated for awards by other teams by noticing how well she played on the field.”
Kailyn Allen was second on the team with nine goals, and started the season on defense before being placed at attacker.
“She’s very feisty, fast and aggressive,” Evanger said. “She’s my shortest player, but she’s not afraid of contact.”
Before the Lincoln match, Allen asked Evanger if she could play attack, and the coach obliged. All Allen did was score three goals in her debut at the new position. Jolee Aguilera also stood out for her consistent play at defender after starting the season at midfielder.
“She is super fast, aggressive, gets the ball and runs it all the way up the field and had a way to get it to another player who usually went on to score,” Evanger said.
Emily Funk came on late after soccer season was done and made an immediate impact. She scored six goals in the final three games of the season, putting an exclamation point on a great Live Oak career. The top player on the girls golf team in Season 1 and a standout on the soccer team in Season 2, Funk utilized her athleticism and smarts to excel in lacrosse.
“Emily came out like a truck, wanted the ball and got a yellow card in her first game because she was so pumped up,” Evanger said. “Had she been here all season, she would’ve killed it.”
Kirchhoff impressed with her ability to make the routine and spectacular saves.
“Her growth throughout the season was crazy good,” Evanger said. “Goalie is the hardest position to recruit for and the fact she did so amazing despite having a lot of people shooting on her made her a standout.”
Kirchhoff ran cross country for three years at Britton Middle School and had a solid freshman season running for Live Oak. However, lacrosse has taken over as her favorite sport, and she’s hopeful of joining Verve, a club program in San Jose.
“I really want to get into the club team so I can get better for when I play with Live Oak next season,” she said.
Live Oak’s roster also included Sienna Stutzman, Monica Iboa, Stephanie Leonard, Ivy Quintero-Ahumada, Ashley Brink, Rachael Moreno, Avery Smith, Alegria Serrano and Emma Ghione. The Acorns had 14 players on the roster by season’s end, but Evanger expects the number to be north of 20 next year.
She had over a half-dozen girls message her throughout the season who expressed a desire to come out next year. A Christopher High and San Jose State graduate—she played lacrosse for the Spartans—Evanger applied for and received a grant from U.S. Lacrosse, which donated 23 sticks and goggles and an entire goalie set to the Live Oak program.
“My big concern for the girls coming out was the cost of equipment can be very expensive,” she said. “I knew I would have girls interested in playing, but I might not have enough equipment. The grant gave us what we needed.”
Evanger can’t wait to get the players back for summer conditioning workouts in July. The experience this past season has only further whetted her appetite to keep going.
“The girls really bonded toward the end of the season,” she said. “I had an athlete who said they’ve never been on a team that was this welcoming, and that almost made me cry.”