It’s taken longer than head coach Sasha Scott might have wanted but the Hilltop High School girls lacrosse team appears to have finally hit its stride with a 10-game winning streak afer the Lancers downed the host Eastlake Titans, 9-5, on Wednesday.
"We graduated only three girls (last year) but they were a good core of the team," Scott explained. “Because those girls were a great part of our offense and defense, we had to reevaluate ourselves. Among our goals for this season was to find our niche.”
Wednesday's victory clinched this year's Metro Conference banner for the Lancers, their second consecutive. The Lancers are 9-0 in league play,12-7 overall.
Hilltop closes out regular season play Friday, May 3, when it hosts Otay Ranch in a 4:15 p.m. encounter. The section playoffs are scheduled May 8-18.
Leadership has been a key facet to the team’s awakening, Scott said. Senior captains include Jalissa Pressley, Angelica Delgado, Laurel Coleman and Chelsea Tuano.
Juniors who have picked up the pace include top scorers Kasey Simonds and Hannah Teague along with Brigitte Young.
Simonds led all scorers with four goals and three assists in Hilltop's 10-3 win against visiting Mar Vista on April 29 while Coleman collected three goals and one assist and Young tacked on two goals.
Hilltop reached the midpoint of league play (5-0 in the league standings) following a 9-1 win at Otay Ranch on April 22. Simonds and Young each scored three goals in the April 22 game while Pressley, Teague and Coleman registered single tallies.
Delgado was credited with five saves against a Mustang team that saw its league record dip to 1-4 and overall mark sink to 5-7.
Hilltop faced off the season 2-7 with lopsided setbacks to Carlsbad (13-7), Mission Hills (14-8), Rancho Bernardo (10-6), Scripps Ranch (16-4), La Jolla (9-3), Canyon Crest Academy (15-2) and San Marcos (8-4).
“We had a rough start because we played some top teams and didn’t do as well as I had hoped we would,” Scott said. “We had a good long team meeting to refocus and realign our goals. We had to realize we operated as one unit. When we started the season we were operating as 12 individuals. It wasn’t working. Since then, we’ve been undefeated.”
League victories have come by large margins: Chula Vista (15-3 on April 8), Bonita Vista (11-0 on April 10), Mar Vista (13-7 on April 15) and Eastlake (12-5 on April 17).
After defeating Otay Ranch on April 22, Hilltop kept its momentum rolling with ensuing wins against Chula Vista (15-2 on April 24), Bonita Vista (8-5 on April 26) and most recently Mar Vista and Eastlake.
Brianna Duplessis paced the Lancers with four points (one goal, three assists) in the Aoril 26 victory at Bonita Vista while Teague racked up three goals and Simonds contributed three assists.
Hilltop raced to 1n 8-1 first half lead in its following game against Mar Vista.
Through 18 games, Simonds led her team with 49 goals and 61 points, followed by Coleman with 27 goals and 41 points.
“Our main goal right now is not to get ahead of ourselves — we just want to think about the next game in front of us,” Scott said. “Other goals are to win league and get back to CIF and make an impact.”
The Lancer coach noted her team will compete in a restructured playoff format based on competition level rather than enrollment level. Hilltop became the first team in conference history — boys or girls — to win a section playoff game last year.
“I’m excited for the opportunity that we’re going to play more like-minded teams than the big name teams like Torrey Pines and Poway,” Scott said. “I’m hoping we have what it takes to go farther this year.”