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Lemons Loves Lacrosse

Right now, Park City High School’s Kasi Lemons is eating sleeping and breathing lacrosse. She just finished her most successful season ever, and continues to fill her life with lacrosse. If she’s not honing her game, she is spending her time with fellow lacrosse lovers. In fact, on a late spring Wednesday night, Lemons is hanging out by the pool with — who else, but — members of the girls and boys lacrosse team.

Lemons, who moved to Park City in February from Carlisle, Penn., has been slowly building towards this year. She had strong stats before the move and saw that this could be her year.

The move to Park City so late in her high school career was one that she could’ve have chosen not to make. Her father is a colonel in the Army and plans to retire soon. He has owned a house in Park City for a while and decided to make the move this year. But Lemons’ parents gave her the option to come with them or stay in Pennsylvania to finish her senior year. Lemons wanted to have friends and memories to come back to when she visited her parents and decided to make the move with them. Her decision was bolstered by a December trip to Park City to meet the girls’ lacrosse team. Things clicked and the decision was final.

"It was awesome," Lemons said. "The chemistry was there right away."

This season, Lemons led the team in scoring and also became a leader on the team. She forged friendships with her teammates and helped them see their potential in the sport. the end of the season, Lemons had garnered All-America honors for her play and earned a trip to play with other stars in her region at a seniors-only national tournament. At this national event, she was named an all-star with just 20 other girls chosen from a field of 160.

Still, even with all of these accolades, Lemons has remained humble.

"I didn’t expect it," she said. "I don’t play lacrosse for awards."

Instead, she plays for the success of her team. Even with all she has accomplished this spring, Lemons is still stuck on the fact that Park City was not able to win in double overtime to claim the high school state championship two weeks ago. She said that individual awards may give some of her teammates something to strive for in coming years, but a state title is something in which the whole team can share pride.

Next year, Lemons will play Division I girls’ lacrosse at St. Mary’s in California. This puts her among an elite and very small group of Utah girls who have been able to play the game competitively in college. Although Lemons had less exposure out West, she said that she never questioned her ability to play at the college level.

"Lacrosse is lacrosse," she said. "It wasn’t any different. I knew I would end up Division I last summer."

Lemons was recruited by other Division I programs like Vanderbilt, Bucknell, University of California at Davis and Oregon, but said that once she met St. Mary’s coach, Lauren Uhr, and visited St. Mary’s this spring, she was sold.

"St Mary’s was what I was looking for in terms of academics, lacrosse, and I love the campus," Lemons said.

Lemons said that the school started contacting her after seeing game tape from the season-opening Las Vegas Tournament. After that, things just fell into place. Lemons, who plays midfield attack, said that next year her plan is to work as hard as possible in practice and hopefully see some playing time. She said that Uhr is known for being fair if players are dedicated, so Lemons is ready for the challenge, but is also preparing herself for the difference in game pace and player skill.

"It is so much faster," Lemons said. "Everyone at the college level can catch and throw."

She plans to start her summer workout as soon as school finishes. After that it will be a countdown until she heads for campus in late August.

According to Park City head coach Amy Hafets, this is a huge accomplishment for both Lemons and the Park City program. This is the team’s first player to be recruited by a Division I program. Not only does it gives the rest of the team a new goal to shoot for, but, she says, that it also shows how far the program has come in such a short period.

Lemons said that there are a couple of girls on the Park City team who could follow in her footsteps.

"I could definitely see that happening," Lemons said, "If they [college coaches] see someone that puts in the effort and skill and they have to personally really want it."

Lacrosse isn’t Lemons’ only sport. She also plays golf, basketball and soccer. She even considered going for a golf college scholarship until she found out that Utah girls’ golf and lacrosse seasons clashed. After that, it was a pretty easy decision.

At one point, Lemons didn’t even play lacrosse. It wasn’t until her best friend, Kelsey Madden, introduced her to the sport a few years ago.

The rest, as they say, is history. And it allowed Lemons to make a little history for herself and Park City, too.

Coach’s comments

First of all, Kasi’s impact on Park City Lacrosse will remain long after she graduates. Kasi is a special athlete and lacrosse player, who combines a smart field sense, sheer strength and power, and the ability to read the player’s around her. Kasi shared her love of the sport and her knowledge of the game with her teammates. She was constantly willing to give her teammates tips or pointers on how they could make a better shot, a more precise pass, or to have overall confidence with their stick work. Her influence encouraged other girls on the team to work harder and push themselves to experiment with different shots or passes.

As a player, Kasi stands out amongst other female players because she is not afraid to use her strength or play the game at a more physical level, which is typical of East Coast play. Kasi has a unique and amazing outside plant shot that not many girls’ goalies are used to seeing. The girls shots generally occur at a close range with speed and finesse. Kasi has a huge advantage that she has many shots in her arsenal to keep the goalie on her toes. Additionally, Kasi has a comfort level and confidence with her stick work that helps her maneuver and fake with ease. She understands attack and defense concepts, which adds to her field awareness. One of the most credible qualities about Kasi though, is her unselfish play. Although Kasi was our team’s leading scorer, she would be much happier assisting goals and helping her teammates make the score.

I am very proud of her play this season and her accomplishments and achievements. Kasi is making history by being the first PC girls’ lacrosse player heading to a DI program! By setting this precedent, other girls on the team see that it is possible for Utah lacrosse players to continue on at the next level and receive recognition from college coaches. This is an important step for the Park City program, since several of our juniors and sophomores are considering their lacrosse future in college. With more players setting the goal of playing at the collegiate level, their focus and preparation for the high school season becomes more focused and deliberate. In a way, Kasi has opened that channel for Utah players to see it is possible to continue with lacrosse. I am thrilled for her, and we will all be supporting and cheering her on.

Submitted by Amy Hafets


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