Walking off the field at Reach 11 Sports Complex in north Scottsdale last week the disappointment was understandable.
The Desert Vista girls lacrosse program had its undefeated club season come to an end and finished second in state in Division II for the second straight year.
A loss to end the year always leaves a team flat, but a week later the Thunder can sort of zoom out and take a look at the big picture.
Then it becomes pretty clear.
"We had a great year, no question," Desert Vista coach Tammy Pleticha said. "The competitor in you makes it difficult to want to believe that at first, but we never expected to be undefeated heading into the championship game. When you back away from it you realize we had a great year."
Desert Vista lost 7-5 to Notre Dame last Friday in the title game after beating the Saints twice in the regular season.
It was a bit of a cruel ending, but nonetheless the fate the Thunder was dealt.
"We played above expectations all year and we played our hardest in the last game," senior Hallie Parkinson said. "It just didn't work out, but we've come so far."
Desert Vista exacted some revenge in beating Horizon 11-10 in the semifinals as the Thunder lost to Horizon in the championship game a year ago.
The Thunder finished 15-1 on the year with seven seniors, no juniors and a handful of sophomores and freshmen.
"I don't know how good we will be next year, but the younger players got a lot of valuable experience," Pleticha said. "We came into this season trying to make up for our loss (in the championship game) and hopefully we will have that same type of attitude next year. It can be a huge motivator if we let it."
The one thing that will be hard to duplicate is the chemistry of this team.
"We had great respect for each other and wanted to win for each other," senior goalie Bobbi Ruiz said. "We knew how to communicate our problems and work them out instead of letting it get to us."
Ruiz said the loss stung but what she will remember is chemistry and the winning.
"We really didn't know how good we were going to be," she said. "We started winning and after each win we wanted another one and (the win streak) just kept getting longer and we wanted to keep it going."
Ruiz and Delany Stratton, who forced 39 turnovers, took on most of the opposition's offensive attacks.
Stratton, Parkinson, Lauren Johnson, Emily Nichols, Jenna Myers and Ruiz are playing in tonight's all-star game at Scottsdale Sports Complex. Pleticha and her assistant, Grace Kim, will coach the team. The game starts at 8:30 p.m.
The offense was led by midfielders Parkinson (47 goals, 13 assists for 60 points) and Johnson (66 goals, 13 assists for 79 points), while Gabriella Gambadoro (26, 10, 36) and Nichols (17, 15, 32) were also counted on heavily.
"They worked so well together," Pleticha said. "We had a good offense, but those two won a lot of games for us because of the work they did on the other end of the field."
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