Fall Ball Focus: Denver Zone Adds Trinity McPherson After Gap Year

PHOTO COURTESY OF DENVER ATHLETICS

Sam Thacker, one of the nation's top defenders last spring, is back once again to lead the Pios.


Liza Kelly has never coached a player coming off a gap year. When asked how to handle someone coming off a year away from the game, Kelly wasn’t exactly sure.

Luckily, Trinity McPherson isn’t any ordinary player. The Johns Hopkins graduate who was a four-year starter under Janine Tucker glided up the field in early October at USA Lacrosse headquarters during a fall ball game against Boston College. She showed no signs of wear and tear after playing another fall ball even the night before.

At times, she looked like the most in-shape player on the field. Joining a Denver team that stymies opponents with its zone defense, McPherson is the type of athletic defender who can make an immediate impact.

“I think Trinity is a really great leader,” Kelly said. “And that was one of the things we're probably most excited about. I mean, I knew if she was a Janine kid that you were going to get a good egg. But I think she just has a fun attitude. I'd say off the field is just as important as what she does on the field.”

Defense is the key for Denver. Its zone is among the best in the country, funneling only the shots it wants to give up to goalie Emilia Bohi, who flashed brilliance during her freshman season.

Expect McPherson to be a key component of the unit this spring.







LAST SEASON

Denver spent much of last season regarded as one of the most unbreakable defenses in the country, and holding Boston College to 13 goals is generally a recipe for success. But the Pios’ offense lagged behind in the NCAA tournament, and Liza Kelly’s team fell to the Eagles 13-8. Denver’s defense ranked fifth nationally at 8.38 goals allowed per game.

BIGGEST FALL QUESTION

Does the defense remain stout with two key roles to fill?

Sam Thacker returns, and that alone makes the Denver defense a capable unit. But losing cornerstones Kailee Lammers and Sammie Morton means the Pios have some work to do. Assuming her adjustment goes well, McPherson figures to slide into one of those roles, and Sarah Pokorny has a similar skillset to Lammers.

Kelly’s zone defense is more about the sum than the individual parts, so as much as Lammers and Morton meant to the team, a number of players can help Denver stay the course. With Emilia Bohi backstopping the defense in her sophomore season, Denver should be just fine.

MARQUEE ADDITION

Trinity McPherson

McPherson was a 2021 standout at Johns Hopkins before taking a gap year and landing in Denver this fall. The defender from Baltimore started 40 of the 41 games she played in with Hopkins, totaling 82 ground balls and 55 caused turnovers. She also was part of the tryout process for the U.S. women’s national team in June 2021.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATES

Sloane Kipp, Raegan Wilson and Mollie Estepp

Like the defense, the offense is a sum of its parts. It doesn’t rely on just one star to set the tone. Coming off a 96-point season, Bea Behrins has graduated. That leaves the offense in the capable hands of Lauren Black, Julia Gilbert and others. Look for Sloane Kipp, Raegan Wilson and Mollie Estepp to make contributions in the midfield, further adding to Denver’s stable of options.

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