The Murrieta Mesa girls’ lacrosse team brought home the school’s first ever Southwestern League title when they defeated Vista Murrieta 18-4 Wednesday, May 19. The Ladies of Murrieta Mesa stayed committed after the 2020 season was cut short, faced adversity through a pandemic, and came out on top going a perfect 10-0 in league during the 2021 season. Autumn Wagner was named the ‘Player of the Game’ versus Vista Murrieta, who finished the season at 6-4, tied with Chaparral.

Murrieta Mesa went a perfect 10-0 in the Southwestern League to win their first ever league title. Valley News/Courtesy photo

“Our first team practice/conditioning was on September 9, 2020,” says Murrieta Mesa head coach, Molly Sovacool. “We couldn’t practice with sticks, or balls…and there were lots of butterflies about even having a season. I don’t think I have ever been that nervous for anything in my life. Covid was all we heard about and lived for 6 months…so getting back to school/campus in work out gear with my team was exciting and stressful.”

Murrieta Mesa garnished an overall record of 17-2, with their only losses coming from Corona del Mar (18 to 9) and a heartbreaker to Westview, 18-17. As the Lady Rams wrapped up their regular season, they finished with an 11-game winning streak and were a perfect 8-0 at home during the course of their year.

“The girls lost a season (2020), but they never lost hope,” added Sovacool. “They always had a clear vision of what their goals were and stayed disciplined in the guidelines and regulations. Every update on a fall sport getting pushed back or playoffs getting canceled for some teams…it hurt…it was worrisome, but we stayed the course. We committed to do “Whatever it takes” …masks…temp checks…daily check-ins…sanitize…socially distance…it didn’t matter, the girls missed the sport and missed each other.”

Murrieta Mesa players celebrate after a recent win against Murrieta Valley. Valley News/Courtesy photo

The message was sent, with capital letters, as no Southwestern League team came close to Murrieta Mesa in the Southwestern league, aside from Chaparral, who fought within 10 goals back in April when the Lady Rams won 16-6. Overall, they scored 328 goals during the regular season, allowing 111 on defense. In league, Murrieta Mesa scored 189 goals, and only allowed 44 on defense.

The Lady Rams varsity roster consisted of: Autumn Wagner, Avery Moreno, Brooklynn Bonafede, Carson Dickey, Dylan Smith, Elizabeth Wang, Ella Quijada, Erin Shaffer, Gia Rizzo, Jayda Johnson, Kyla Painter, Lauren Kuschel, Lexie Hamilton, Lillian Wilson, Madeleine Nielsen, Mikaila Stone, Payton Curtiss, Sophia Tresvan and Sydney Moreno.

Murrieta Valley, who had former Murrieta Mesa assistant coach, Joe Jones, take over this year, closed out the year going 5-5 in league, Temecula Valley was 3-7, and Great Oak could not put things together this season as they went 0-10.

The Murrieta Mesa girls’ lacrosse team won the school’s first ever Southwestern League title after defeating Vista Murrieta 18-4 Wednesday, May 19. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Playoff brackets for girls’ lacrosse will be announced Saturday, May 22, at

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JP Raineri can be reached via email at

JP Raineri
JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.