River Buechner excels on and off the field for Skyridge girls lacrosse
Skyridge junior River Buechner races up the field with the ball in a match during the 2021 season. Buechner was named the Daily Herald Valley Player of the Year.
Skyridge junior River Buechner (center) races toward the ball during a match with American Fork in 2021.
Skyridge junior River Buechner (8) reaches for the ball in a match against Corner Canyon in 2021.
As well as River Buechner performed on the field in 2021, Skyridge coach Colin Gill valued what she did behind the scenes even more.
“She reaches out to members of the team and tries to make lacrosse a great experience for the newcomers,” Gill said. “She helps create a good team culture for the whole unit. I told her that most people won’t recognize everything she does as a captain.”
Buechner organized off-season workouts when the inaugural 2020 campaign was canceled due to COVID-19. She was in charge of “LAX and Snacks,” a get-together that introduced lacrosse to curious classmates at Skyridge. She also took the time to help coach kindergarten through fourth graders, priming the next generation of lacrosse athletes.
Buechner’s on and off-field exploits earned the junior the Daily Herald’s first girls lacrosse Valley Player of the Year.
“Having my friends with me on the team is a huge part of why I love lacrosse,” Buechner said. “Just the feeling of being on the field, knowing it’s all or nothing and you’ve got to leave it all on the field. I love how fast paced it is and I love the way you can do so much with it the more you practice and work.”
Buechner was a force for the Falcons, totaling 68 goals and 17 assists for 85 points. She also managed 123 draw controls, 123 ground balls and 52 caused turnovers as Skyridge posted a 13-2 record (10-0 in Region 4 play) and was the only team in the valley to reach the Division A tournament.
“River’s stats speak for themselves,” Gill said. “She’s a really well-rounded player. She can play any position but plays midfield and excels on both ends of the ball. She’s especially strong on the draw. It’s rare when she struggles on the draw. She’s smart with the ball and confident with ball great shot. She plays defense well and she’s really aggressive in causing turnovers.”
River has a strong connection to her sister, sophomore Haven Buechner. This season, Haven had 78 goals and 13 assists for 91 points.
“They work the draw together so well,” Gill said. “River is so smart because she always knows where Haven is. She can get the ball to herself or if she likes the matchup Haven has, she’ll push the ball in her direction. River knows how to make the right play in each situation.”
River and Haven Buechner was introduced to lacrosse around the third grade by their mother, the former Michelle Sheide, who played at BYU. The sisters grew up playing in Utah and were thrilled when girls lacrosse was sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association.
“I go to camps and tournaments and coaches tell me I’m so lucky to be able to play with my sister,” River Buechner said. “We’re so close in age so to be on the same team is such a blessing. We know how each other plays and it’s great having an automatic partner for practice and working out.”
Gill said one game that sticks out this season was the second time Skyridge played region rival Corner Canyon.
“The first time we played them was a one-point win,” Gill said. “At halftime of the second meeting we were down five or six goals. We needed a momentum swing. What I appreciated about River was she was able to really focus on what she does well, the draw. She won just about every single draw and that was a big shift for us. We made a huge comeback in the second half and won by one again.”
Haven and River attended the Lacrosse Masters camp in Connecticut this month and both have aspirations of playing college lacrosse.
“The East Coast coaches don’t really come out to Utah to recruit so we have to do to those camps,” River Buechner said. “We want to go Division I for sure.”
Before that happens, the Buechner sisters will return in 2022 for another season.
“We have big plans and unfinished business,” River Buechner said. “We’re going to take state next year.”