Fri, Mar 30 2012 03:30 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
As soon as the horn sounded to end the Hilltop-Otay Ranch boys lacrosse game March 21 at Hilltop High School, members of the host team rushed onto the field, not in celebratory fashion, but to console their teammates.
While the visiting Mustangs roundly celebrated an inspiring come-from-behind 8-6 victory that kept them atop the Metro Conference standings, the Lancers felt the pain: they knew they had let one get away.
Hilltop’s players may not have been absolutely crushed after twice coughing up three-goal leads in a game that could have defined the program’s 10-year history, but Lancer coach Pete Bishop did say his team “took it hard.”
What Bishop and his assistant coaches are looking for now is staying power for what could rate as the Lancers’ best-ever team.
“I’d like to think that this is the best team, certainly this is the best start we’ve had,” the HHS coach said.
The Lancers improved to 6-2 overall, 2-1 in league play, following Monday’s 7-1 victory at Chula Vista High School.
Hilltop could have likely popped in a few more goals but it wasn’t necessary. The winless Spartans (0-4 in league, 0-7 overall) produced their share of cheers when they snapped the Lancers’ shutout bid on a goal by William Treul with five minutes to play.
Chula Vista dropped a 17-0 non-league decision at El Capitan the previous Thursday.
Daniel Hodge had the hot stick in the loss to Otay Ranch. He scored his team’s first five goals and was unbeatable on face-offs, winning the ball each time and charging like a runaway locomotive into Mustang territory.
The Lancers led 5-2 at halftime but could muster only one goal in the second half as Otay Ranch claimed the game with a 6-1 scoring edge in the second half.
Both teams created their fair share of unforced errors; the defending league champion Mustangs had fewer.
Hilltop’s game plan on Monday was to play ball possession, and it worked. When the other team didn’t have the ball, there wasn’t much it could do.
“Our goal is to keep on improving and cut down on our mistakes,” Bishop said.
That said, the Lancers have one more shot at Otay Ranch (April 23) and two against the Eastlake Titans, who dropped a 13-12 heart-breaker to the visiting Mustangs on March 19. Hilltop was set to host the Titans on Thursday, with the winner emerging as the chief challenger to Otay Ranch for this year’s league title.
Teamwork defines this year’s Lancer team, Bishop said, noting that there are almost as many assists registered this season as there are goals. The HHS coach said that in a 10-1 victory against Montgomery to face off league play, the Lancers had nine different goal-scorers.
“When you see something like that on the score sheet, that tells you that you have good team work,” Bishop said.
Hodge scored two goals in Monday’s game while adding two assists. Chris Soldau and D.J. Hunsicker also chipped in with a pair of goals while Chase Neibert scored once and Raul Fosselman picked up two assists.
If the Lancers have players seeing double this season it is because Chris and Daniel Soldau are twins. Both have contributed to the early season success of this year’s team in their senior year.
Joining Hodge as impact returners are Fosselman, another attack man, and defenders Miles Teague and Fabian Chavez.
Bishop lists Hunsicker, a middie, as one of the team’s impact newcomers.
Overall, the HHS coach credits the team’s success this season to its large number of returning players.
That experience helped the team deal with the potentially devastating loss to Otay Ranch in a positive manner. The Lancers shrugged off the disappointing setback to the Mustangs by defeating host Santana, 12-3, last Saturday.
Bishop said his team’s goals remain the same: to win the Metro banner and improve every game.
Both obviously go hand in hand.
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