Girls lacrosse team hopes for big year

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Dennis Semrau/Special to the Times-Tribune

Following a successful debut season a year ago, second-year coach Alex Byers has high expectations for Middleton’s girls lacrosse team that finished 17-4 in 2023 and was second in the Badger Big Conference.

After losing to Hudson in the state quarterfinals, the Cardinals are eager to make a long postseason run in their debut season as a WIAA-sponsored sport.

“One of the positives is that we’re being recognized as a valid sport. Hopefully, it will continue to grow the sport now that we’re in the WIAA,” said Byers, a Portland, Oregon native who played lacrosse in college and is a Spanish teacher at Madison West High School.

“We have more oversight and more organization, which is nice. We have more refs. We have more money behind assigning refs. Without the refs, you can’t have a game. I’m quite happy it’s upping the reputation of women’s lacrosse as a sport in the state.”

Byers said one of the main issues is continuing to grow the sport.

“Some of the downside is that because we existed as a club sport for so long, having to restructure those conferences,” she said. “We’re currently in a conference of three with Verona and Sun Prairie. That’s frustrating because now we must schedule our remaining games as non-conference games. We’ll see, as the sport continues to grow, more bigger schools will adopt the sport and we can have a full conference.”

The Cardinals, who open their season against Bay Port April 11 at Breitenbach Stadium, return seven starters.

Leading the way are twins and senior co-captains Emma and Abby Tubbs, who have committed to Carroll University.

“Emma is a defender, and Abby is a really, skilled attacker,” Byers said. “Senior Sophie Wilde is our other captain, who is hoping to play in college next year. She is a talented midfielder.”

The Cardinals also return senior midfielder Laina Gustafson, who recently committed to Emerson College to play lacrosse next year.

“Our strength this year will be our defense,” Byers said. “We have Emma Tubbs and senior Sophia Hernandez, who will anchor our defense. They are super fierce, communicative, and loud. They know exactly what they are doing, which is awesome.”

Middleton will have a new goaltender this season in junior Izzy Ensenberger, who was on the JV team last year.

“She has been playing lacrosse since she was in elementary school,” Byers said. “She is super tall and athletic. We’re excited to see what she brings and how she fits into our varsity dynamic.

“Sophomore Eloise Wilde is a super talented attacking midfielder. She was on JV last year because we had a great crew of seniors.”

Byers said she is eager to see what the Cardinals can accomplish in her second season.

“I’m excited this year about the amount of energy and commitment the girls have brought to the sport,” Byers said. “Being a second-year coach with the program, the dedication and skill are very surprising coming from Oregon to a place where lacrosse is relatively new.

“I’ve been coaching for 15 years and this is one of the better programs I have coached. It’s super exciting to see them come together and all be positive and want to work towards being as good as they can be.”


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