Fri, Mar 30 2012 03:34 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
At 9-1 overall, it might seem as if the Hilltop High School girls lacrosse team is ready to run away and hide from the rest of the competition.
Braced by 10 of 12 varsity returners, many of whom are playing their third season together, there is obviously no substitute for experience, as shown by the Lancers’ explosive start to the season.
“Our goal this season is to win the Metro (Conference) league title and make it to CIF playoffs, but we are going to take it one game at a time,” Hilltop coach Sasha Scott said. “We only lost two seniors last year, so we pretty much have our whole team back this year. But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We take it game by game and tackle each challenge as they come.”
Opponents so far have been crying “ouch!” on the scoreboard.
The Lancers improved to 2-0 in Metro play following Monday’s 14-0 victory against three-time defending league champion Otay Ranch. The lop-sided win over the Mustangs followed an equally decisive 14-2 victory against visiting Bonita Vista in the league opener for both teams last Saturday.
Kasey Simonds led the assault with five goals in Monday’s game while Nicci Coyle collected four points on three goals and one assist as did teammate Brigitte Young with two goals and two assists. Hannah Teague had two goals and one assist while Aurora Clark and Chelsea Tuano each scored once.
Hilltop goalkeeper Angelica Delgado stopped all seven shots she faced in recording her first career shutout.
The Lancers led 8-0 at halftime.
Nine players scored goals against Bonita Vista, led by Coyle with three goals and two assists.
Laurel Coleman scored three goals to further boost the hosts while Simonds contributed one goal and three assists and Young collected two goals and one assist.
Five players each scored one goal: Tuano, Jalissa Pressley, Chelsea Ventura, Brianna Duplessis and Clark.
Simonds took a team-high seven shots.
Delgado stopped four of the six shots she faced.
Hilltop led 8-1 at halftime.
Monday’s steamroller victory was the ninth in a row for the Lancers — four of which came in capturing the championship title of the Valley Center tournament on March 10.
Prior to opening league play with a blast, Hilltop recorded an 11-5 non-league victory against visiting Santana on March 22.
Coyle led all scorers in that game with four goals and one assist while Teague and Young each scored twice. The Lancers led 5-1 at halftime.
Scott attributes the Lancers’ runaway success in 2012 to the team’s large cadre of returning players. Senior captains include Coyle, Ventura and Courtney Creel. They are joined by Delgado, a junior captain.
Other key returners include juniors Coleman, Clark, Pressley, Tuano, Duplessis and Gabi Mark-Bachoa along with sophomores Simonds and Teague.
Impact newcomers include Young, a sophomore, and freshman Natalie Coyle.
“Having 10 out of 12 of our varsity starters return this year is a huge advantage,” Scott said. “For most of the girls, this will be their third year playing together, and some their second year playing together. Team chemistry plays a huge role in the success of a team and my girls work really well together. They build on each other’s strengths and improve on their weaknesses, too.”
Scott said another contributing factor to the strong start is team leadership.
“Our four captains — seniors Nicci Coyle, Chelsea Ventura, Courtney Creel, and junior Angelica Delgado — are doing a great job guiding this team and keeping them focused on the task at hand,” she said. “The one thing I ask my girls is for them to give me 110 percent every time they step on the field and leave it all out there … and that’s what they do!”
Seven teams participated in the Valley Center tournament. Hilltop defeated Temecula Valley (8-1), Monte Vista (8-6) and Great Oak (13-2) to win its pool and then topped Santa Fe Christian, 6-5, in the championship game.
The Lancers rallied from an early 3-0 deficit in the title tilt.
“It was an awesome game and both our defense and our offense played great!” Scott said. “This was the first time in program history that we have defeated a North County school.”
Simonds had four goals in the finale against SFC and three goals and one assist against Temecula Valley. Nicci Coyle had three goals and three assists in the win over Great Oak and five goals against Monte Vista.
Scott said Monday’s victory against Otay Ranch marked another watershed moment for the Hilltop program.
“For the first time in program history, we defeated our archrivals and three-time defending Metro champion Otay Ranch,” the HHS coach said. “For three years, we have tried to defeat this team and came so close last year, but never did. This victory was hard-earned and well-deserved!”
On the season, Nicci Coyle leads the team with 33 goals and 46 points, followed by Simonds with 18 goals and 24 points, Young with 13 goals and 19 points, Teague with 11 goals and 12 points and Coleman with 10 goals and 12 points.
Delgado has stopped 60.9 percent of the 110 shots she faced.
Hilltop has outscored its opponents 102-43 in 10 games.
The Lancers appear to be building on last year’s 14-7 record, including a 7-3 runner-up finish to Otay Ranch in league play.
“If we do accomplish this goal (winning league), it would be the first time in program history, which is an amazing feat considering my seniors — Nicci, Chelsea and Courtney — never won a game their freshman year,” Scott said.
“Since I took over the program their sophomore year, these girls and the program have improved leaps and bounds. I’m so proud of them!”
On the horizon
Girls lacrosse will once again feature two playoff divisions, each with 12 teams. League champions receive automatic entry, with the remainder of the 12-team field filled out by at-large berths. Hilltop will be competing for a berth in the Division I playoffs.
The Lancers’ lone loss was 8-7 to Patrick Henry in the second game of the season. Hilltop’s other close call came in a 9-7 victory at San Marcos on March 16.
Patrick Henry and San Marcos both are competing for Division I post-season berths.
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