Ahwatukee Lightning Lacrosse
The Ahwatukee Lightning Lacrosse team defeated the Mesa Heat 16-3 en route to their third consecutive state championship. Submitted photo

The Ahwatukee Foothills Lightning continued its dominance in the Arizona Youth Lacrosse League and won its third consecutive league championship on March 5.

The Lightning (12-0) defeated the Mesa Heat 16-3. They have won 39 games in a row over the past three seasons, outscoring opponents 509-86 during that span.

The team consists of local middle school students and acts as a "feeder" program for the Desert Vista High School Lacrosse Club.

Interest in the sport has increased over the past years, one parent said, due to its pace and less emphasis on size.

"It's the fastest sport on two feet," parent Randy Fitch said. "You don't have to be gigantic to play the sport, you just have to be agile and have good hand-eye coordination."

There are currently two middle school teams and two elementary school club teams that cover the Ahwatukee Foothills area. The Dragons Select youth team is a competitive team for fifth- and sixth-grade students. There is also a team for kids from first grade to fifth grade.

"They are starting the kids young," Fitch said. "And we are getting awesome coaches."

One of the former coaches and founder of Ahwatukee Lacrosse, Matt Rakowski, played for the University of Virginia, a Division 1 lacrosse program.

"He's been the pioneer for getting the younger kids involved in lacrosse," Fitch said.

Jon Braase has coached the Lightning for the last four years and said he attributes the team's success to development and preparation.

"Our season starts at the beginning of January but we are out there practicing in September," he said. "We pride ourselves in that we can have 10 players that can catch and throw and understand the game."

There are eight players from the team that will be playing for the Desert Vista club this season. At least one will be on the varsity team.

"We have got some amazing kids," Braase said.

Desert Vista kicked off its season March 8 with a game against Corona del Sol.

To find out more about the Ahwatukee Lacrosse program, visit www.AhwatukeeLAX.com.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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