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Valencia girls lacrosse beats West Ranch for historic win

Valencia girls lacrosse player Jayden Yamasaki looks for an open teammate in a game against West Ranch on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Haley Sawyer/The Signal

The Valencia girls lacrosse team made history on Tuesday afternoon as it beat West Ranch for the first time in regular-season play in program history. The Vikings walked away with a 10-8 win at West Ranch.

“Honestly, shocked,” Kat Lin thought as the final horn sounded. “Like, I thought I’d get really excited and, like, cheer really fast, but honestly I think I was more shocked because it’s never happened before. We’ve been playing them for four years now. So to have this happen, it’s just crazy to me.”

Although the Vikings had a team effort with goals from multiple girls on the team, Lin was able to score the go-ahead goal with 14 minutes left in the game and put the Vikes up 7-6.

“Any opportunity I get the ball, I really wanted to get to the goal and help my teammates out in any way,” Lin, a senior, said.

From that point on, Valencia was able to keep at least a one-goal lead for the remainder of the game.

The first half was much closer, with West Ranch leading for most of the half. Bella Gervasi scored to put the Wildcats up 4-2 with 10:38 left in the opening frame, but Valencia’s Jayden Yamasaki scored two minutes later to keep it at a one-goal deficit.

Gabriella Banuelos scored to extend West Ranch’s lead to 5-3, but the Vikings potted back-to-back goals from Allison Park and Lin to tie the game headed into halftime.

“That seems to be the norm whenever we play Valencia, is that we usually do well in the first half and then they always come out really strong in the second half,” said West Ranch coach Leesa Chelminiak. “So, compliment to them, they can pull out that second half.”

Valencia was able to control the pace in the second half while scoring when necessary. Yamasaki scored her second goal of the game to open up the half, then West Ranch’s Madison Spell, who Chelminiak said led the team that afternoon, evened the score at 6-6 with a goal of her own.

Lin scored the go-ahead goal on a breakaway, then Yamasaki logged a hat trick by scoring one minute later as the Vikings continued to keep control of the game.

“A big saying for us is calm, composed, civilized, so really keep a level head, especially playing a team like this,” Lin said. “Just working towards, like, getting towards our goal and playing the best game we can and not focusing on the other team.”

Sophie Shin scored to get West Ranch within a goal of tying the game, but a yellow card was dealt to Park that took her out of the game and deflated the Wildcats, who had to play a man down for the last nine minutes of the contest.

“The very end of the game, Valencia was holding the ball,” Chelminiak said. “We couldn’t pressure because we were a man down.”

Abigale Chen took advantage of West Ranch goalkeeper Catalina Ortiz being slightly out of position to score another Valencia goal. Gervasi struck back with a goal of her own, but Lin was able to net one final goal with 6:15 left in the game for some breathing room.

Although it is Valencia’s first regular-season win over West Ranch, the two teams met earlier this season in the Santa Barbara Showdown tournament, with the Vikings coming out on top.

The crosstown rivals will meet once more this season on April 29 in what will be the Vikings’ season finale and the Wildcats’ penultimate game.

“It will be a great game,” Lin said. “I think everybody’s going to come out twice as hard and after that tournament, I think everybody really came out super hard today, too. So the level of pressure gets a little bit higher, but I think that just makes it better.”

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