West Ranch girls lacrosse beats Valencia by one

Valencia junior Katherine Lin and West Ranch sophomore Abi Jin chase down a loose ball in a Foothill League game between the Vikings and Wildcats at Valencia High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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In seasons past, girls lacrosse games between West Ranch and Valencia were pretty lopsided, with the Wildcats always winning.

On Tuesday night at Valencia, that wasn’t the case. West Ranch won 7-6 in one of the most competitive games ever between the two teams.

“Valencia is now becoming a talented team and its nice to have a good team in town to have good competition to play against,” said West Ranch assistant coach Alexa Matta. “The girls really like it, they look forward to it. They were pumped about tonight.”

The Wildcats scored their first goal just a few minutes in with Hope Jin netting one at 23:57. The Vikings answered with two goals from Katherine Lin, the second of which was scored after a penalty was called on West Ranch. Lin cut to the left, then drove to the net for a quick shot and goal.

Bella Gervasi scored next for the Cats at 12:44, then took another shot 20 seconds later that went wide right of the net.

Valencia senior Katie von Mecklenburg holds off a Wildcat defender in a Foothill League Matchup with West Ranch at Valencia High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

With 10:44 left in the first half, Jin made a pass to Madison Spell to give West Ranch a 3-2 advantage.

“We’ve been working on trying to spread out and use our open players and I think we did that a lot better this game than we have in the past,” Jin said.

Valencia was able to even the score again with Lin taking a shot from the top of the arc, but West Ranch jumped ahead again as Gervasi wrapped around from the back of the net for a direct shot.

Katie von Mecklenburg scored for the Vikes with two minutes left in the first half, then Gervasi executed a spin move to get around a Valencia defender and put the Wildcats up 5-4 with one minute remaining until halftime.

“We just keep telling ourselves it’s okay if they score a goal, next play we got it and if they miss a goal it’s okay, just keep trying, place shots and everything will be fine,” said Valencia defender Jasmine Glover.

West Ranch senior Hannah Landon looks back at a at a Vikings defender in a Foothill League Matchup with Valencia at Valencia High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

West Ranch showed more scoring depth with a goal from Gabriella Banuelos at the 22:52 mark to give the Cats their biggest score advantage of the evening.

Three minutes later, Lea Hwang scored for Valencia from the top of the arc to cut the deficit to one goal, then Lin scored to tie up the game at 6-6.

Jin sealed the game, scoring a goal with 11 minutes left in the contest.

“She goes both left and right, so if I tried to cut her off left, she would go right really quick and I would just try to catch up and that was pretty difficult and vice versa,” said Glover, who defended Jin throughout the game.

Although the two teams are done competing against each other for the season, Valencia next plays at Culver City on Monday at 7 p.m., while West Ranch plays at La Canada on Friday at 4 p.m.

“It’s a big rivalry,” Gervasi said of playing Valencia. “So every time we play them we’re all really excited and it’s always an intense game and we’re just trying to be good competition with each other, just keep the rivalry going.”

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