By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Five local lacrosse teams will head to playoffs to continue their season and fight for a CIF title.
Lacrosse has become one of the fastest growing sports in the valley. Not every school has a program yet, but many of the athletes play in local clubs, showing the demand for the sport.
Saugus looks like a strong contender heading into the Division 2 playoffs, while the talented West Ranch squad hopes for another shot at the Centurions deep in the postseason.
For girls’ lacrosse, Valencia and West Ranch split games and the league title, each looking like sound teams playing well on both sides of the field.
Valencia girls team prepares to host Mira Costa
The co-Foothill League champs will have quite the battle-tested opening round opponent in the Mira Costa Mustangs (15-6, 2-4).
Valencia still has the weapons to score big numbers on anyone and with the defense playing their best game all season, it should be a tight game.
Offensive weapons like Trinity Custodia, Ellery O’Hara and Miranda Haynie will be crucial in getting the Vikings over the top. The three are a huge part of the Vikings’ scoring through their strong countering and passing.
Mira Costa had some stumbles this season after starting 10-1. However, the team has plenty of quality wins over good teams.
Valencia takes the field with the Mustangs Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
West Ranch girls gearing up for showdown with Corona Del Mar
Shortly after the Vikings game, West Ranch will host their own playoff game on Valencia’s field against the visiting Corona Del Mar.
West Ranch ended up co-league champs with Valencia after the Vikings stole the teams’ second league game, 8-6. The Cats are still playing strong lacrosse and will look to test themselves in their playoff matchup with the Sea Kings.
Juniors Frankie Garcia and Abby Grace have been goal-scoring machines for Corona. Garcia leads the team with 71 goals and 45 assists while Grace is just behind her teammate with 65 goals.
West Ranch will be without five starters on Thursday due to illness but will still have freshman sensation Allison Hoffman. The freshman leads the team with an astounding 64 goals and 15 assists.
Cats head coach Leesa Chelminiak believes her team can pull off this tough matchup even with some junior varsity girls being called up for the big game.
“Biggest thing is keeping possession of the ball,” said Chelminiak. “If we can keep the possession of the ball, we can get the ball in the back of the net.”
West Ranch hosts Corona Del Mar Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Valencia High School.
Saugus boys get first round bye, will host Cate
Saugus (13-2, 6-0) completed a fantastic season, earning the team a first-round bye. Coincidentally, the team will play the Cate Rams, who are also currently on a first-round bye.
Cate is also coming off a perfect season in league play and will look to continue their seven-game win streak against the Centurions.
Saugus, however, is on an eight-game win streak, and has whooped a few teams that Cate has lost to. The Centurions’ strong defense, attack and faceoff game have put them ahead quickly in the majority of their games this season.
Goal scoring and ball movement from Charlie Bland, Connor Levine, Tommy Forrand and Ryan Maycott have caused mayhem for Saugus’ opponents. In between the posts, Mason Teel has played exceptionally as the team’s goalie.
Teel has held opponents to six or fewer goals in 11 of the team’s 15 games.
Saugus and Cate will have their opening faceoff at Saugus on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
West Ranch boys also awarded bye, will play JSerra
The Foothill League runner ups had a great season, finishing just behind Saugus. Now, just like in baseball, West Ranch will face JSerra on Friday.
JSerra won its opening round game against San Marcos on Tuesday, getting the team’s first win in almost two weeks.
West Ranch also took a loss at the end of their season to Crespi and will hope to get back on track against the Lions.
The Cats have three big scoring threats in Tyler Jones, Marin Domic and Ryan Yahata. The trio all have 30 or more goals on the year and create a lot of space for one another on offense. Senior Carter Borsos is also huge on creating looks for his teammates and leads the team with 45 assists.
West Ranch will host JSerra Friday at 3:15 p.m.
Hart boys head to Wilson for program’s first playoff matchup
The Indians (12-6, 2-4) capped off a great season with a three-game win streak, which helped the team earn an at-large bid into the Division 3 playoffs.
Hart has shown it can start off hot but has often cooled down in the second half, a problem head coach Tony Bendfeldt has been addressing since earlier in the year. If the Indians can keep their foot on the gas for all four quarters, they’ll be a tough out for most opponents.
Bendfeldt will look for tough defense throughout Wednesday’s game to get Hart on top. Scoring from Cole May and Jack Loftus will be key while the Indians will look for strong defense from Cole Spivey and Reid Bailey.
Hart will look to win their first-ever playoff game when they head to Wilson Wednesday at 3:15 p.m.