Girls lacrosse clearly came of age last spring as five Metro Conference teams qualified for the San Diego Section playoffs. Moreover, two Metro teams squared off in the division semifinals and one team — the Bonita Vista Barons — scored a history-making runner-up finish in the CIF finals.
Is girls field hockey ready to make a similar splash this fall?
That’s a good question.
Hilltop and Otay Ranch qualified to represent the Metro Conference in last fall’s section playoffs. Hilltop defeated Poway, 2-0, to advance to the quarterfinals.
There will be a definite buzz going through Metro teams this season as the CIF divisional championship double-header is scheduled Nov. 22 at Otay Ranch High School.
Will a local squad be represented in the finals? It would be a watershed moment if so.
The Eastlake Titans got a leg up on the 2014 season by conducting spring drills alongside the Eastlake football team. Embracing the spirit of Title IX, EHS coach Robert Blas figured why not?
The Titans did, and had a lot of fun.
Top returners this season include seniors Chloe Isbell, Ariana Uribe and Anna Asbury and junior Kali Bowden.
Isbell, a midfielder, is a third-year varsity player, team captain and a member of last year’s all-league second team.
Uribe, also a midfielder, is a second-year varsity player and team captain.
Bowden, a goalkeeper, and Asbury, a midfielder, are both second-year varsity players.
Isbell and Uribe were members of last year’s all-academic team (student-athletes with grade-point averages of 2.0 or higher).
Impact newcomers for the Titans include juniors Sarah Leach and sophomore Isabella Hook.
Leach is up from the EHS junior varsity team while Hook hails from Maryland and Weaver hails from Virginia.
Blas said the majority of last year’s team was lost to graduation, with only five players — three starters — returning this year to what he terms a “very young, athletic team.”
“The varsity consists of five seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores and two freshmen,” he said.
Last year’s EHS team finished 2-6 in league play, 6-11 overall, and did not advance to the CIF playoffs.
Still, success could be had this season.
Blas said expect the Titans to hustle and work hard, count on the team’s senior leadership and to work “as a team to help them be successful.”
Mustangs look to lead challenge for Metro GFH title
The Metro Conference girls field hockey membership has increased to seven schools with the addition this year of Southwest and Castle Park high schools.
Conference members also include Hilltop, Bonita Vista, Otay Ranch, Chula Vista and Eastlake.
Hilltop and Otay Ranch are defending league co-champions. Both teams, along with Bonita Vista, appear to be the three front-runners this year.
“Whichever team wins league will have to be consistent,” Otay Ranch coach Brianne Martinez said. “And they’re going to have to be talented as individuals and also talented as a team.”
Otay Ranch’s top returners include senior goalkeeper Alexis Horta and senior defender Lesli Barranco. Sophomore midfielder/forward Lauren Salaiz is the team’s top newcomer, according to Martinez.
“Our team has grown significantly with a number of new players,” the ORHS coach noted. “We’re going to be a young team. Conversely, we were co-champions with Hilltop last year. The expectations are high. The girls have expectations for the team and have also placed expectations on themselves as individuals.”
Martinez said the Mustangs’ strength is in its defense.
“We have a lot of experienced defenders, and that will help keep the ball out of our net,” she said. “We have some players who can drive the ball (shooting).”
Martinez said her team will use the upcoming non-league portion of the schedule to fine-tune itself in preparation for league play, which faces off Sept. 25.
“We want to get in as many competitive games as possible to get ourselves prepared before league play starts,” the Mustang coach said. “We try to schedule teams a bit better than ourselves to make it as challenging as possible in our pre-league games.”
Otay Ranch will once again host its junior varsity and varsity tournaments. The JV tournament is scheduled Saturday, Aug. 30. The varsity tournament will take place on successive Saturdays —Sept. 6 and 13.
Sixteen teams will compete in each event.
Canyon Crest Academy captured the JV title and finished runner-up to San Pasqual for the varsity title last season. Canyon Crest went on to win the Division II section title.
“It was a very competitive tournament,” Martinez said in regard to the caliber of the Mustangs varsity tournament.
Overall, Martinez said interest appears to be increasing for girls field hockey.
“I think there’s more interest for the sport considering our Olympic team is practicing just down the street (at the Chula Vista U.S. Olympic Training Center),” Martinez explained. “Also, a lot of girls who play lacrosse are now playing field hockey.”