Valencia lacrosse wins thriller at West Ranch 

Valencia attacker Anya Krishnan (18) runs with the ball againt West Ranch's Lauren Lamb (31) during the first quarter of Wednesday's game on March 27. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Going up against the momentum in a tie game with league title implications on the line was no problem for Valencia sophomore Anya Krishnan. 

Krishnan netted the buzzer-beating game winner against the hosting West Ranch Wildcats girls’ lacrosse on Wednesday to lift her Vikings to an 11-10 victory. 

West Ranch (4-7, 2-1) had stolen all momentum and erased a two-goal deficit early in the fourth before a long scoreless stretch.  

Freshman Grace Manning was just inches away from scoring a potential game-winner for the Wildcats but her shot in the final minute bounced just over the goal. Valencia (5-6, 2-1) drew a penalty on the ensuing possession, leading Krishnan to drill the goal that evened the series.  

West Ranch and Valencia have now split games in three of the last four seasons. 

For Valencia, it was another casual dominant outing for senior Olivia Fassino, who netted six goals and registered a couple of assists. 

Valencia attacker Olivia Fassino (13) celebrates a goal by Valencia during the third quarter of Wednesday’s game on March 27 against West Ranch. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

The Vikings aimed to slow the game down and wear out the Wildcat defense that held them to their lowest scoring output against West Ranch since 2018. 

“West Ranch is faster than us, so the game plan was to get the ball on attack, slow it down, hold it for a couple minutes, frustrate them, but we have to take our opportunities and we have to make the opportunities,” said Vikings coach Andy Steier. “The girls did that. They executed perfectly.” 

The plan worked as Valencia’s defense shined, highlighted by a scoreless third quarter. Goalie Gianna PruDe played lights-out in between the posts and helped her team avenge its 17-4 loss earlier in the season to West Ranch. 

“(PruDe) was amazing between the posts today. You know, she came up with some huge saves. I know she was gonna be frustrated with herself because of ones she let in, but at the end of the day she came out big,” Steier said. “She did exactly what we asked her to. We asked for about 50% save rate and I think she was right there today.” 

West Ranch was led by its star underclass attackers Manning and reigning league Player of the Year Lauren Lamb. 

The two added five goals apiece and were the only two Wildcats to get a ball past PruDe. Manning added most of her goals in the first half while Lamb came alive late in the game. 

West Ranch’s Lauren Lamb (31) runs with the ball during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against Valencia on March 27. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Lamb erased a two-goal deficit with a pair of goals in the fourth quarter and tied the game 10-10 after she converted two penalty shots.  

The two goals ended up being the last scores of the day for West Ranch, which had stolen the momentum but had too many self-inflicted wounds to close out the game. 

“We had the passion and we wanted it,” said Cats coach Leesa Chelminiak. “We just made a couple mistakes. We were offsides and gave up possession twice. That was where the momentum of the game changed.” 

Lamb also made one of the plays of the day with a buzzer beater of her own in the second quarter. The sophomore somehow got the ball after a wild possession and netted a goal to go up 7-6 at the half. 

Manning’s highlight play came just before Lamb’s, as West Ranch junior Kaya Carleton found her freshman teammate somewhat open right in front of the goal. Manning was draped in defenders and didn’t have time to snag the pass and take a shot. The freshman appeared to just tap the ball in off the quick pass, giving Valencia no time to react.  

After winning two in a row, West Ranch has now dropped two straight games by just one goal. Chelminiak is proud of her new-look team this season after a big graduating class and a pair of all-leaguers transferring out, leaving a ton of spots in the lineup open. However, the young Wildcats have answered the call and remain in the Foothill League title hunt. 

West Ranch’s Lauren Lamb (31) scores during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against Valencia on March 27. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

“We graduated nine seniors last year and we only have four girls on varsity this year that were on varsity last year,” Chelminiak said. “The rest of them were either on JV or they’re freshmen … So we’re young and they’ve been doing a great job. I’m super proud of all of them.” 

Valencia continues to grow in the win column and as a team. Steier has seen his team grow more into one unit and seen selfish play dwindle in the last few weeks. 

“This was our best game all around to date,” Steier said. “The girls are not playing selfishly. They see what can happen when they play a team game and not have one person who wants to score all the goals. This is what happens, you win.” 

Both teams return to Foothill League action after spring break as West Ranch hosts Saugus on Tuesday, April 9, at 3 p.m. Valencia returns home on Wednesday, April 10, to host Hart at 6:30 p.m. 

Valencia celebrates their win against West Ranch on Wednesday, March 27. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
West Ranch’s Grace Manning (10) runs with the ball during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against Valencia on March 27. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Valencia midfielder Victoria Lee (36) catches the ball against West Ranch’s Grace Manning (10) during the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game on March 27. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
Valencia celebrates their win against West Ranch on Wednesday, March 27. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

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