Palos Verdes Sea Kings girls’ lacrosse rode a late surge of goals to put away the hosting West Ranch Wildcats in Monday’s CIF Division 2 quarterfinals.
Palos Verdes hammered in five unanswered goals to close out the game in the final minutes of regulation to win the game, 16-12.
Junior Riley Padian led the Sea Kings with seven goals.
West Ranch started slowly but took total control of the game in the second half. The Wildcats trailed, 9-7, entering the second, but sparked a huge defensive stand in which they held the Sea Kings without a shot for nearly 10 minutes.
The Cats attacked over and over, trying to wear down the Palos Verdes defense. Quick goals from Maya O’Grady and Olivia Bartholomew tied the score at 9-9 before sophomore Julia Hoffman netted her third of the day to put West Ranch on top.
“At first we didn’t have much energy but once we started scoring and going, that helped us keep it a close game,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman is one of several goal-scoring options for head coach Leesa Chelminiak, but with top scorers Lauren Lamb and Julia’s twin sister Allison Hoffman being tightly guarded, Julia was one of seven Wildcats to score on Monday. The sophomore added scores at crucial times as she registered the first two goals of the day and a go-ahead goal for West Ranch.
“We knew that they were going to be moving quite a bit,” Chelminiak said. “One of their tactics, which worked really well for them, is they face-guarded Allison Hoffman and Lauren Lamb. So, that took them out of the mix. One nice thing about our team and we showed it for most of the game is that you can take out our two strongest players, but we still have 10 girls on the field that are willing to step up and do the work, so I’m super proud of everybody the way that they stepped up.”
The Sea Kings started finding rhythm again when senior Kyra Schmid found the back of the net and gave her team an 11-10 lead. Allison was ready to answer and immediately hit back-to-back goals to put the Cats back in front.
However, the scores were the last two of the day for West Ranch as Palos Verdes turned on the burners to score five straight goals. The Sea Kings were able to retake control of the game with the same formula they used in the first half. The team fought for every faceoff loose ball and drove the ball hard into Wildcat territory.
The Hoffman twins led West Ranch with three goals each.
Chelminiak was still pleased with her team’s performance and season. West Ranch finishes the season 10-8, not a bad mark for a team that started 3-7. The easy answer for the turnaround in this game and for the season was teamwork.
“Today was the most beautiful display of teamwork I’ve ever seen at West Ranch lacrosse,” Chelminiak said. “I’ve never had a team this talented. I have 14 extremely talented girls that are all equally as talented as the next and all have strengths that they can bring to the team. Just because they’re not all Allison and Lauren scoring all the goals doesn’t mean they weren’t bringing extreme value to this team. Teamwork is what I keep coming back to. That’s what I wanted and that’s what they gave me.”
Julia also agreed that, once the team put their individual goals aside, the squad thrived.
“I think we came really far,” Julai said. “It’s amazing because we were losing at first because we were worried about our individual statistics, but we’ve really grown.”
Chelminiak will graduate nine talented seniors, including captains Emma Liao, Madison Chan, Sophia O’Hara and goalie Bailey Borkowski. The senior group showed fight throughout their varsity finales, leaving their head coach to hope this isn’t the last she’ll see of them at West Ranch.
“They didn’t want to go home today because they had that much heart,” Chelminiak said. “I’ve had teams in the past that when it gets to the playoffs, they’re done. These girls didn’t want to go home today and that made it a little harder, but we’ll just keep working for next year. I’m hoping that maybe we have one or two that decide to come back and maybe coach at West Ranch.”