For the four star seniors from the St. Paul’s girls lacrosse team, which captured its first Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland championship since 2006 this spring, Saturday is a reward for their gifted talents, dedication and special bond.
Being named an Under Armour All-American and having a chance to play in the 16th annual girls senior game — set for 5:30 p.m. at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field — is a dream for every high school lacrosse player.
Getting a chance to play with teammates that helped produce a remarkable season puts the excitement level over the top.
Representing the South team in the country’s most prestigious senior showcase, the Gators have every position covered with goalie Leah Warehime, defender Paris Colgain, midfielder Christina Gagnon and attacker Caitlin McElwee taking the field.
“When I found out that all four of us were playing, the first thing I thought of was it being one more chance to play with some of my best friends, people I’ve grown so close to,” said Gagnon, who was named the Nike/USA Lacrosse National Girls’ Player of the Year. “So I’m pumped we’re on the same South team and I’m so excited to get another chance to play with some of my best friends. I just think all of us deserved it — all of us were the leaders this year and it goes to show all the hard work we put in and how it keeps paying off.”
The Gators’ monumental season — they finished 15-1 and ranked No. 1 nationally — was two years in the making with COVID-19 canceling the 2020 campaign. While the four standouts are all quick to point out the complete team effort that was at the forefront, each had their own significant roles and unique storylines.
After a promising freshman season, Gagnon missed her sophomore campaign because of a torn ACL and had to watch as the Gators fell to McDonogh, 5-4, in double overtime in the league championship game. In her senior season, she finished with 36 goals and 24 assists while doing all the little things as the Gators’ catalyst. She enjoyed a three-goal, two-assist performance in the championship game against McDonogh.
On defense, Colgain has been the team’s rock since she started as a freshman and rarely left the field. She was always trusted to cover the opposing team’s top scoring threat.
Warehime and McElwee were both transfers who fit in seamlessly and helped the Gators get over the hump.
Consistency is the ideal trait for a goalie and Warehime, who arrived from Gerstell as a sophomore, proved just that for her two seasons at St. Paul’s. After limiting McDonogh to the five goals in a memorable 13-save performance in the 2019 championship game, she made nine in this year’s title game while limiting the Eagles to two goals in the decisive second half.
Coming over from McDonogh as a junior, McElwee quickly made up for lost time in her only season at St. Paul’s. A dominant goal scorer who also opened space for teammates, she finished with a team-high 48 goals along with five assists — capping her career with four goals and an assist in the title game.
For St. Paul’s coach Mary Gagnon, Christina’s mother, one common trait from her sensational four proved the starting point to the team’s success.
“Collectively, I would say their work ethic is what they brought most to the team,” she said.
“Coming in, they were very passionate about it, worked hard and their level of play and their intensity — wanting to come in and win and not just come in and say they wanted to win. It was not just an activity for them, it’s passion and they really did understand that they had to work hard and they worked all year. It was kind of catchy. They were going to different things and other girls wanted to go to different things — training here and shooting there, and next thing you know a lot the kids were doing it.”
After the agonizing overtime loss to McDonogh in 2019, the Gators had to wait for their chance at redemption.
What they showed during that time — staying together through the pandemic and holding on to their goal of winning a championship — was a testament to team play. When their time finally came this spring, they were ready to shine together.
In their 15-1 season, the Gators averaged 14 goals while yielding only six. Their 10-9 loss against Notre Dame Prep came after 11 straight wins and served as an important reminder that nothing can be taken for granted.
“The way our sophomore year ended — losing in the championship — and then losing our junior season due to COVID, I think it only made us stronger and more motivated to start off strong and finish strong in our last season playing together,” said Warehime, a Georgetown commit. “It was just such a fun group of caring and hard-working girls and there’s no other team that I’ve been on like it. We’re all just so close and basically a family and I think spending time with all these girls before and after games and on the sideline was always so much fun. It’s just an unforgettable experience.”
In the fifth grade, Colgain went to watch her first Under Armour All-American senior game and has made every one since.
On Saturday, she’ll once again be there, this time on the field and in uniform with that special company by her side.
“When I found out I made it, I was excited because ever since I was little I have been to all the All-American games and I always looked up to all the girls that were playing,” she said. “So just the fact that I’m now in position where I’m going to be one of the players that I’ve always looked up to is just awesome. That’s like the biggest honor in that I can play and show that it could be you in the stands watching and it could be you one day if you’re willing to put the work in. So it’s really exciting.”
UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICAN LACROSSE GAMES
Saturday at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field
Girls: 5:30 p.m.
Boys: 8 p.m.