By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
It’s not often a two-year starter with better than 30 career goals explains their third season as a starter as a learning process.
Then again not many players find themselves in the type of role Lauren Gaarde filled her first two seasons at Regina.
Gaarde spent two seasons playing alongside former Regina all-staters Jenny Wick and Lauren Ronnfeldt, racking up 31 goals as the third scoring option on Regal teams that made back-to-back state semifinal appearances.
“Last year I just kind of hid around and Jenny would play be a ball to me and I’d score,” Gaarde said with a laugh. “That was my job because they would focus on her so this year has been a transition for me for sure.”
With Wick and Ronnfeldt off to college careers at Division I programs Gaarde has gone from an afterthought to the centerpiece of opposing game plans.
Further complicating her transition, Gaarde moved from forward to center midfield this season and found herself relearning the game two years into her career.
“This year there is more teams trying to key in on me, teams will always say ‘get 14’ and last year I would just hide and sneak in as much as I could,” Gaarde explained. “I am accepting that because I know that’s how it is going to be next year to. It’s just what I have to do.”
It took some time but Gaarde has adjusted to her new role and the constant attention from defenders that has come with it.
She scored both Regina goals in a 2-1 win over Solon on Tuesday to bring her team-leading season total to 14 and has four goals in the last five matches.
“I think that was initially a struggle for her and some other girls because they were great in the supporting cast but no one was the star and so that has taken a while to grow into those roles,” Regina coach Anne Larew said. “I think that the last few games she has really started to take ownership there.”
Larew believes that Gaarde has the talent that rivals some of the great players at Regina.
As she adjusts to becoming the center of attention Gaarde is beginning to put that talent on full display.
“She definitely has that type of talent,” Larew said. “She is not the kind of person who draws attention to herself she just goes out and does her job.”
Not only has Gaarde led the Regals in scoring this season she has become a key component in the Regals’ defensive scheme from her midfield spot.
She has also taken on a role as a distributor with four assists and a team leader.
“She has played I think every minute of every game and she is not just sitting up top waiting for someone to play her the ball, we are asking her to do so many different things,” Larew said. “We are asking her to play defense, we are asking her to distribute the ball, we are asking her to communicate with everybody and we are asking her to score and that’s a huge role and a huge responsibility. She has really started to blossom and to grow into that and I’m so proud of her. “
With the graduation of Wick, Ronnfeldt and trio of other senior starters from last year’s 2A runner-up team Gaarde hasn’t been the only Regina player in a new role this season.
The Regals are 4-11 while battling a schedule full of larger schools and ranked opponents.
All 11 of the losses for Regina have come to either Class 3A competition or ranked teams.
Regina closes out the regular season on Friday against Class 1A top-ranked and defending state champion Assumption before opening postseason play at home on Tuesday against No. 15 West Liberty.
“We’ve definitely had struggles this season but we are a good team so it’s good to see it paying off and that we can do this,” Gaarde said. “Even though our record is bad I think we are starting to realize now that it’s possible, it’s just a sense of urgency that we need to have.”