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Girls lacrosse teams set up exciting finish to 2014 campaign Phillip Brents | Fri, May 02 2014 02:49 PM

Girls lacrosse continues to gather momentum among South County high schools. A Metro Conference-record eight schools are fielding teams this season. Several local teams, in fact, could find themselves involved in post-season play.
Two of them were locked in a dogfight Monday at Hilltop High School as the host Lancers entertained Bonita Vista in a must-win game for both squads.

Hilltop entered the week tied with Eastlake for the league lead, with each team sporting one loss. Bonita Vista entered the week with two losses, with a win over Hilltop and an ensuing victory by Hilltop over Eastlake in their remaining game potentially forging a tri-championship between the teams.

Three-quarters of the way through Monday’s contest it appeared as if the above scenario might be set in motion as the visiting Barons took a 5-3 lead.

But the Lancers had the final say in the matter, recording four unanswered goals in the final 13 minutes to prevail 7-5 and force a championship match-up against visiting Eastlake on Thursday.

“It was definitely a must-win game, especially for us,” Hilltop coach Jennifer Ferrer said. “In order for us to win the championship, we had to beat both Bonita Vista and Eastlake this week. The girls stepped up — they knew what they had to do and what this game meant.”

The teams traded goals in the first half to finish in a 3-3 deadlock on the scoreboard. Liz Des Enfants scored twice and Ana Quintana once for the Barons (9-3 in league, 13-3 overall) while the Lancers (11-1 in league, 12-4 overall) received goals from Natalie Coyle, Kasey Simonds and Hannah Teague.

Bonita Vista came out of the half with the momentum, however, as Lauren Gonzales and Des Enfants each scored goals to give their team a critical two-goal lead with 15:30 to play in the 25-minute half.

Teague got one goal back with 13:44 remaining to trim the BV lead to 5-4. But when Teague incurred a double-yellow card penalty with 10:11 left to give the Barons a man-up opportunity for four minutes, it appeared that momentum had swung back to the visitors’ side.

It hadn’t. Simonds scored a short-handed goal with 7:58 to play to tie the score at 5-5. Brigitte Young added another goal with 4:36 left in regulation to put the hosts in the lead, 6-5, and Ericka Weber scored an insurance goal with 48 seconds to play.

After Young’s go-ahead goal, Hilltop managed to hold possession for nearly three minutes to run the clock down.

Both coaches said the short-handed goal proved to be the turning point in the game.

“At that point, the girls had to stop blaming the refs and just keep on playing,” Ferrer explained.

“That was the pivotal point in the game,” Barons coach Ernesto Luna admitted. “We didn’t take advantage of that man-down. They scored on it — hats off to them. It was a hard-fought game. We could easily have come out on the other side.”

With the loss, Bonita Vista can finish no higher than a tie for second in the league standings, and appears to have no worse than a third-place league finish locked up in a bid to collect a favorable seed in the upcoming Division II playoffs.

“We went from contending for a league championship to battling for a playoff spot,” said Luna, whose team recorded a clutch 12-10 win at Mar Vista on April 21 and a 16-5 victory against visiting Chula Vista the previous Thursday to remain within striking distance of both the Lancers and Titans. “But that’s OK with us.”

Kianna Santana received credit for six goalie saves in Monday’s game for Hilltop while Bonita Vista’s Kiana Sparks was credited with seven goalie saves.

Des Enfants scored two goals in the final two minutes to break a 10-10 tie against Mar Vista and led Bonita Vista with three goals and two assists in the win over Chula Vista.

Eastlake (10-2 in league, 13-3 overall) swept four games last week to keep pace with both the Lancers and Barons but faltered in Monday’s road match at Otay Ranch, dropping a 6-5 decision to the host Mustangs to fall out of a first-place tie with Hilltop.

The Titans began last week with a 14-3 victory against Chula Vista on April 21, then edged Monte Vista, 9-8, the following day, topped visiting Olympian, 12-6, on April 24 and blasted visiting Helix, 13-4, in a non-league encounter last Friday.

But Eastlake let a 4-3 halftime lead slip away on Monday, forcing a must-win in Thursday’s battle with Hilltop in order to secure at least a share of this year’s league title. Demi Greiner had two goals for Otay.

Heading into Monday’s game at Otay Ranch, the Titans’ lone league loss had been 10-6 at Bonita Vista on April 17.
The Mustangs, who are vying for a Division II playoff berth along with Eastlake, Bonita Vista and possibly Mar Vista (6-9 overall, 5-6 in league play), improved to 10-7 on the season, 7-5 in league play.

EHS coach Robert Blas said he personally likes the added competitiveness the expanded league has afforded this season.

 “I like the way the league has split at the top,” he said. “It gives us a chance to have more competitive games on our schedule.”

Eastlake finished the opening round of league play atop the league standings with a 7-0 record. But two of those wins — 7-6 against Bonita Vista and 13-12 against Hilltop — came by one-goal margins. The Titans started the second round of league play with a come-from-behind 12-5 win against visiting Mar Vista on April 14 to improve to 8-0 in Metro play.

Hilltop entered Thursday’s game with victories in five of its last six games. The Lancers defeated host Otay Ranch, 13-6, on April 24. 

Hilltop defeats Eastlake, 8-2, to move into sole possession of first place in league standings

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