Castle Park girls lacrosse team finding its identity, moving up rankings

Castle Park team members pose after recording their first win of the season on March 12.

Castle Park High School girls lacrosse coach Chris Kryjewski has seen it transpire before his very own eyes, and it’s a beautiful sight to behold.

The Lady Trojans finished 0-16 during Kryjewski’s first season at the helm in 2016. There was improvement the following season with a 2-15 record.

Castle Park finished 6-14 in 2018 before the wheels really started turning with a 10-8 record last year and a runner-up finish to Mar Vista in South Bay League play.

The Lady Trojans finished 8-2 in league, with both losses to Mar Vista (10-0 in league).

Castle Park also earned some perks by defeating crosstown rival Chula Vista, 9-8, in the teams’ second annual Battle of the Greek Goddesses rivalry game.

The Lady Trojans could be reaching for new heights this season after defeating Otay Ranch, 15-1, in a non-league game on March 12.

“As we fell two games last season from winning the first league title in school history, we are looking at keeping that momentum we had last season going into this one,” Kryjewski said. “Our roster looks young, but we have experience to compete. Castle Park will be a team that continues its surprise rise in the county.”

The 2020 roster includes 17 of 18 players with varsity experience.

Junior Illinani Roche earned selection to the all-league first team last season while junior Citlalli Fernandez-Mora was honored as the league’s goalkeeper of the year.

Seniors Brittany Rodriguez and junior Berenice Villalobos both received second team all-league recognition last year.

Junior Sharlin Hernandez is also listed among the team’s top returners.

The team’s impact newcomers include juniors Janell Morales, Anissa Diaz, Fernanda Carrillo and Jennaline De La Paz along with senior Angelina Ortega.

Villalobos led the Lady Trojans with seven goals in the win over Otay Ranch while Roche scored five goals. Anissa Diaz scored two goals while Milagros Aguilar had one goal and finished 12 of 15 on the draw control.

“We had a very solid defensive game as we forced the ball (to be) dislodged and gained more offensive possessions,” Kryjewski said.

Of note, Roche became the team’s career goal-scoring leader in program history with 54 total goals scored after passing the previous record-holder, Celeste Preciado, who had 51 goals.

There is still some work to do, however. Castle Park faced off the season with an 0-3 mark following non-league losses at Eastlake (13-2 on March 2), at Olympian (7-2 on March 5) and at Mt. Carmel (14-1 on March 9).

“It was a great team win (over Otay Ranch) in light of the sad news that sports was shut down for the next three weeks (due to the coronavirus pandemic),” Kryjewski said. “With this win it brought us together as we had an 0-3 start. The first three games were very competitive games against Eastlake, Olympian and Mt. Carmel, all on the road. To open our home season with a win was such a blessing.”