St. Agnes and Sidwell Friends have battled for the Independent Athletic Conference girls lacrosse championship six of the last seven years.

Friends has usually finished atop the league, except in 1984 when St. Agnes went undefeated. But St. Agnes has always come back to win the championship by defeating the Quakers in the postseason tournament.

Recently, St. Agnes repeated tradition, avenging a last-minute, 9-8 regular season loss to Sidwell by winning the IAC championship match over Friends, 11-5, and continuing its postseason tradition.

St. Agnes' Kathy Jenkins and Sidwell's Anne Monahan have opposed each other as rival coaches since 1979, but they are working toward a common goal.

"We are really trying to promote the sport {in the Washington area} so it becomes as popular as in Philadelphia or Baltimore," Jenkins said.

"The problem is that a lot of schools don't start with lacrosse young enough. Clinics are needed to promote the sport."

While attempting to get widespread participation in girls lacrosse in area public schools is difficult due to the lack of experienced coaches, the program in the private schools has grown two-fold since the game was introduced in the early 1970s.

"It has definitely grown in the area in the last 10 years," said National Cathedral Coach Sue Merritt, whose team is usually among the top four in the IAC.

"There used to be only five or six teams and now there are 12 or 13. What hurts the game is that it's not in the public schools. We don't have the depth in this area that other areas do. It is a popular sport, but there is a shortage of people who have played, so there aren't enough coaches."

Monahan and Merritt both have extensive playing experience. Jenkins, one coach who never played the game, uses her basketball experience to plan team strategies.

Perhaps the key to success for these teams has been the players' abilities to master the game despite the lack of training.

In the tournament alone, Jenkins' team outscored its opponents, 95-16, in five games. They scored 170 goals and had 52 against in the regular season. Sidwell scored 134 in the regular season.

Senior Sarah Williams broke school scoring records with 75 goals and 37 assists as she led the St. Agnes to a 15-1 record. Williams plans to continue her lacrosse career at Yale with teammate Hilary Vaughan. On defense, Vaughan accounted for 27 goals and 13 assists and won over 90 percent of the draws this year.

National Cathedral's Alex Levy scored the most goals in the league this spring with 78.

Sidwell's Laura Parsky led her team to a 9-0 record with 36 goals, followed by Mary Peters with 34.

Jenkins attributes her own team's success to the players' participation in other sports.

"This year's team is the best I've ever had," she said.

"They are well-rounded and they've worked together for a long time. A lot of them played on the field hockey team and basketball team. It is an unusual group."

Girls lacrosse is not the rough, contact sport like the boys' game. In the girls game, contact such as checking is strictly forbidden.

The field also has natural boundaries so there is a larger playing area.

The sport has become the game of preference for many students in the IAC. For Jenkins it isn't a mystery why it's so popular.

"It's a fun game, a pretty game to watch. The kids love the game."