Lacrosse continues to be the fastest growing sport in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The 2023 season welcomed Castaic High School to the boys’ side of the Foothill League while West Ranch, Saugus and Valencia high schools all won their playoff openers.
The Wildcat girls’ team won its third straight league championship and took its season all the way to the CIF Division 2 quarterfinals.
Saugus boys fall in second round to Santiago
The 2022 Saugus team graduated a plethora of talent and even had its head coach depart in the offseason after a third-round playoff exit.
First-year head coach Slade Barbosa understood the high standards of the program, accepted the challenge and delivered another league title for the Centurions.
Saugus (10-6, 8-0) stormed into the playoffs and defeated the Santa Monica Vikings 13-11. Senior Tommy Forrand led the way with five goals.
The Cents then advanced and lost a 9-8 heartbreaker to St. John Bosco.
Forrand and junior Wyatt Notch finished the year in the 20-20 club, going well over the mark in goals and assists. Junior Parker Teel led Saugus in both categories, finishing the year with over 40 goals and nearly as many assists.
The Centurions will graduate a ton of talented players but retain two of their top scorers as well as one of their two star goalies. Saugus will bid adieu to first team All-League goalie Mason Teel while returning Matthew Hollenbaugh for one more season.
Saugus finishes another season atop the Foothill League standings and has the pieces in play for a three-peat in 2024.
Wildcat girls reach CIF quarterfinals
West Ranch accomplished nearly all of its goals this season. The team won its third-straight league title with the mantra of “No-Co,” meaning the team did not want to share its championship with Valencia. The Cats achieved this goal and swept the Vikes this year to win the program’s first outright Foothill League title.
West Ranch again was led by a freshman standout. Sophomore Allison Hoffman took the league by storm last year with 64 goals. Freshman Lauren Lamb narrowly passed that mark with 66 goals this season. Hoffman still netted 49 goals for the Cats on a team loaded with offensive talent.
The Wildcats got off to a bumpy start but at midseason were able to turn the tide. West Ranch finished 10-8, 6-0 after a 3-7 start, winning their last seven regular season games.
The team features numerous offensive stars but coach Leesa Chelminiak has given her defense a ton of credit all year. Goalie Bailey Borkowski led the defense filled with natural midfielders and attackers who chose to step up for the Cats on the other side of the field.
West Ranch will graduate some key seniors but the amount of underclass talent that will return is overwhelming.
West Ranch boys win first playoff game in five years
The Wildcats finished the program’s best season in four years to the surprise of few.
West Ranch (11-5, 6-2) won its first playoff game in five years after an 11-5 victory over Crescenta Valley. Senior Tyler Jones led the team in scoring with four goals and also added two assists.
Sophomore goalie Daniel Scott shined on defense, adding 15 saves for the Wildcats.
The Cats fell short in their second-round matchup with No. 1 Santiago, losing 10-5.
The program also accomplished this all with a first-year head coach in Chris Taylor.
Taylor will still be busy for a while coaching track through CIF but showed his ability to keep the program climbing toward the top of the Foothill League. The program will graduate some of the top players in league but have another great shot at a league title next year with 19 returners and players on the junior varsity league champion Wildcats coming up to varsity.
Lady Vikings fall just short of three-peat
Valencia fell just one game short of its third straight league championship. The Vikes still competed against some tough opponents and made the playoffs for the fifth straight season.
The Vikings will graduate four seniors as the offense loses Bridget Bambrick and Eller O’Hara, while the defense will send off Ella Onesti and Bianca Miller.
Valencia won’t plan on staying in second place too long, and with 19 returners next season, there’s no reason to panic that the program is right on track.
Among the returners are Jaeda Rajpibul, the team’s leading scorer, Olivia Fassino, Maya Yiadom, Sarah Park and goalies Gianna PruDe and Kayla Barragan. The returning Vikings will look to return with a chip on their shoulders next season and post a “No-Co” campaign of their own.
Valencia program sparks
The Vikings revitalized the program in 2023. Valencia had won a total of six games in the last four seasons combined. The Vikes finished the year with 12 wins, including the program’s first playoff win in six years.
Valencia improved all over the field but shined in its specialty positions. Tyler Valdespino was nearly unbeatable in the faceoff this year and won just under 75% of his battles.
Junior goalie Daniel Acosta was hard to get by all season. Acosta went over 160 saves on the year and held opponents under five goals in seven games.
Five Vikings scored over 20 goals this season including seniors Ryan Knight, Nathan Lord and Max Stroh. Valencia will, however, return its other top scorers Luke Huey and Alec Le Baut, Acosta in the net, a plethora of talent and will also be able to bring up the bulk of its its 9-3 JV squad.
Saugus girls thrilled with foundational season
The Centurions made a huge jump for the program in 2023. Saugus’ seniors had won just three games in the past three seasons before finishing this year 7-9.
Senior Alexa Olsen led the way for the Cents with 60 goals and 20 assists.
Saugus goalie Marie Morcos led the team in the net, where she racked up 133 saves on a .465 save percentage.
The Centurions will graduate their first round of four-year players, most of whom will continue to play collegiately.
This season may have laid the groundwork for the future of Centurion girls’ lacrosse as the margin between West Ranch, Valencia and everyone else withers.
Hart boys retool in 2023
Hart took a small step back after last year’s 13-7 breakout season. The Indians finished 7-10 under first-year head coach Daniel Kim after a 4-2 start to the year.
The team fought through every game and went to overtime three times in the first seven games of the year.
The Indians have a lot to look forward to. Hart will bring back the Foothill League’s leading scorer in junior Tate Fuller. The junior finished the year with 52 goals and 29 assists. Sophomore Zach Zaldivar will also return next year after finishing his season with 23 goals and 10 assists.
Hart won or was competitive in nearly every game this season. The Indians will look to keep that competitive edge next year as the sport continues to grow along with the level of competition in the SCV.
Hart girls take some lumps but optimistic for 2024
Struggles for the 2023 season were unforeseen after a positive year in 2022 at Hart. The Indians finished 1-13 but were in a handful of games that just got away from them.
Hart will return goal machines Bella DePaco and Vivian Vega next year among other standout starters for head coach John DePaco.
The Indians will look to build off this season and go into the program’s third year of varsity with a head of steam.
Castaic boys show tons of positives in first season
The Coyotes definitely made some noise in their first varsity season. While Castaic missed out on winning any league games, the team went 5-1 in non-league play.
Junior Ryan Lee was a big part of the success, netting 50 goals this season for Castaic. Ryan Giordano will also return next year after his 20-goal junior season.
The Coyotes have plenty of areas they’ll want to improve on, but with 13 players set to return next year, it won’t be long until Castaic is competing for a playoff spot.