Heading to the playoffs in her first year at the helm of Valencia girls lacrosse, head coach Cynthia Hasseman has a lot to be proud of on Monday night’s senior night after a 17-6 win over St. Monica Monday.
“I loved everything from my girls today,” Hasseman said about the big win. “I had girls playing in positions that they weren’t familiar with because it was senior night, but the offense continuously pulled together, got more precise with their shots and the defense really stepped up by communicating.
“All my girls have grown as a team since the beginning of the year.”
Finishing the season with a winning record (9-8 overall), the Vikings dominated the Crusaders on Monday at Valencia. Led by two juniors, Katie von Mecklenburg, who finished with four goals and four assists, and Shelby Lewis, who led the team with five goals on the day.
Thanks to Lewis, the Vikings jumped out to a 1-0 lead as she took the ball the length of the field and scored the game’s first goal with less than a minute into the game.
Just as quickly as Lewis scored, the Vikings allowed back-to-back goals within 10 seconds of each other as the Crusaders took a 2-1 lead.
The Viking wouldn’t stay down for too long as senior Kayla Quilantang quickly tied it up at two at the 18-minute mark to regain the momentum.
Scoring two more goals in the half, Lewis’ speed and athleticism were too much for the Crusader defenders as she zipped by them time and time again with ease, scoring three of five goals in the first half.
“I always would go out and practice with my dad on the weekends and we would just practice shots and dodges so that really helped my offensive game a lot,” Lewis said with a big smile.
While Lewis provided the bulk of the Vikings’ goals in the first half, von Mecklenburg chipped in with two of her own while dishing out four assists, all of which came in the first half.
“We just wanted to come out and work hard as a team,” von Mecklenburg said about the energy the Vikings came out with. “Our main focus was to work together, so that really drove us to work hard.”
Defensively, Jordan Yamamoto, Natalie Hussein and Kianna Shakir were a hand full draping their Crusader counterparts with every juke and run they tried to make.
Heading into halftime, the Vikings led the Crusaders 8-4.
Coming out with the same fight and aggressiveness that they began the game with, the Vikings’ offense was able to net four more goals in the first five minutes of play, going up 12-5 over St. Monica with just under 20 minutes to go in the game.
Allowing one more goal the rest of the way, the Vikings’ defense turned it up thanks in large part to junior goalie Marissa Hasseman, who finished the day stopping nine of 15 shots and ending the game with a .600 save percentage.
Senior Kianna Shakir, who scored both her two goals in the second half, was complimentary of her teammates.
“I’m extremely happy to play with these girls,” Shakir said. “It has been such a great experience these past three years playing with them and I’m really grateful that we got a win on senior night.”
Watching from the sideline due to a knee injury, senior Amanda Yamamoto was really proud of the way her team performed and commented on what they need to work on in preparation for the playoffs.
“I think there’s a little bit of shooting, a little bit of passing and ball work to work on,” Yamamoto said. “… We are definitely hitting the major key points of the lacrosse game which is awesome so now it’s just kind of the small fundamentals that we just have to keep practicing.”
With the win, the Vikings end the regular season 9-8 and will be the No. 5 seed in the eight-team Invitational Tournament as they travel to No. 4 seeded Thousand Oaks on Wednesday.
Game time is yet to be decided.