As a player who committed to a major Division I lacrosse program as a sophomore, Ava Welty’s growth on the field wasn’t going to come on the defensive side of the game.
There, it was clear she already had advanced skills, stickwork and footwork that college coaches salivate over.
However, with her junior and senior seasons still ahead of her, Welty wasn’t content just going through the motions for the Fairview lacrosse team, doing her part to help limit opponent chances while working with a group of defenders that included her sister, Mia.
She needed to challenge herself. It’s just the way she is.
With that in mind, Welty began working to get better at another momentum-swinging skill in the sport — one that also entails beating an opponent straight up in one-vs.-one situations. She wanted to get better at draw control.
It was a goal that coincided with helping the Knights continue to ascend as a program under head coach Kelsey Sheridan.
“This year was my first year really playing in the draw circle and it was really exciting for me because I don’t get the chance to spend much time on the offensive side of the field,” said Welty, who helped Fairview to the Class 5A state semifinals this season and who was honored as one of 10 Colorado players on the USA Lacrosse All-American list. “Playing on the draw, helping my team in that way … making sure my team was always in the positive percentages for draw control was probably my biggest goal this year.”
Tasked with taking the most draws for her team in 2022, Welty contributed 78 controls to allow Fairview a boatload of offensive chances that typically resulted in lopsided victories. In FHS’ 15-3 campaign, the team had an average margin of victory of 10 goals.
Numerically speaking, defenders like Welty don’t get the chance to build up a lot of hard statistics. She earned All-American, 5A first team all-state and BoCoPreps.com girls lacrosse player of the year because of her presence and influence on her team’s outcomes.
A 15-game win streak during the season saw FHS allow just 4.5 goals a game, and a lot of that came from Welty heading up a strong group of teammates that had built up a tremendous amount of chemistry.
“Kelsey doesn’t sub a lot for our defense, so … it’s been my sister, Sierra Ryan and Emily Maran,” she said. “Playing with those same three girls, we just got super connected and really learned each other’s tendencies. By the end of the year, I really had my own way of communicating with each one of them and it was just super easy to understand what we wanted to do.
“But we also had some super strong defensive middies, which was super cool.”
Of course, the memory of getting to play with Mia for the past two seasons won’t be lost on her anytime soon, either.
“It was so fun playing with Mia … just really special to get to play with her and I feel like we had that extra special chemistry,” Ava said.