GLENDALE — Back in 2011, in its inaugural season, the Glendale High girls’ lacrosse team finished winless in eight games, as the Nitros struggled to stay competitive, much less vie for league titles.
But fast forward four years, the picture certainly looks a bit brighter since that first season as a CIF sanctioned team.
On Tuesday afternoon at Moyse Stadium, Glendale moved within one game of clinching a share of its first Pacific League championship by defeating Chaminade, 8-7.
A victory over Westridge on Friday for Glendale (12-5, 6-1 in league) after it defeated Chaminade (11-4-1, 5-1), which has two matches remaining, would assure it a share of the title.
“Not in million years,” senior Denise Guerrero said when asked if she could have foreseen this scenario four years ago. “It just seemed so out of the reach. I couldn’t even catch the ball. I couldn’t even pick up a ground ball.”
Guerrero, a defender for a group that calls defense its hallmark, is the lone senior left from that 2011 team.
“She has endured a lot,” Glendale Coach Joe Campbell said. “I always talk about how everybody gets on the bus and some people have to push it. Denise has pushed and pulled the bus for four years. I know she’s tired. But she’s done that for us and now the kids are starting to push the bus themselves.”
The Nitros didn’t waste their opportunity Tuesday and got off to a quick start. Within the first two minutes, senior Elibeth Torres scored the first of her two goals to position them with the early one-goal edge.
After giving up two goals over the next four minutes, Glendale saw Ariella Ruiz knotted the score at 2 apiece.
Ruz scored a team-high three goals, along with Claire Bernardo.
Trailing, 3-2, at halftime, a goal from Ruiz put Glendale ahead by a score of 4-3 at the 17:25 mark of the second half before Chaminade eventually evened the score at 5.
But in a span of less than three minutes, Bernardo rattled off three goals, including one in which she wrapped around the goalie to put it past her.
Earlier this season, Glendale lost at Chaminade, the league’s longest-tenured team alongside La Cañada, by a score of 7-5.
Seven goals equaled the lowest scoring total for Chaminade all season.
“We are a defensive team,” Campbell said, “because if you can’t throw and catch, you learn to play defense first. The girls have embraced that idea. They’re not the best stick-handlers, but they’re strong. They’re willing to stand in, play together and make it really tough for people to score on us. Everybody teaches offense, but we teach defense. We’re going to win with defense. We’re going to make teams score on us. “
Glendale-Westridge begins at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. The Nitros defeated the Tigers, 16-1, in the previous meeting in mid-April.