Lessons learned for Nitros

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — There were plenty of lessons to be learned when five Glendale High boys' lacrosse players stepped onto Moyse Field to compete in the third annual Pacific Lacrosse League All-Star Tournament on Saturday.

Ramiro Medina, Steven Ugalbe, Steven Bowerman, Walter Alas, Andy Lopez and Chan Kim were all named all-stars. Everyone except for Kim — who had to work — competed in the tournament, and the experience was a little bit different for each.

All five Nitros made up a portion of Team Freeway, joining forces with players from schools they've been competing against all year in their high school club seasons.

Team Freeway finished the tournament in third place out of four teams. They lost to Team North, 8-7, to open the day and fell to undefeated tournament champion Team South, 10-2. Team Freeway did pick a win after Team Coastal forfeited its last match after a number of their players left early.

Joe Campbell, Glendale and Team Freeway's coach, still liked what he saw from his Nitros, who finished the season 8-7.

"They're showing they can compete with the better players," Campbell said. "This is the best competition they're going to see all year."

For seniors Medina and Bowerman, the all-star tournament was a chance to get a taste of more intense competition before they attempt to walk onto their respective college lacrosse teams at the UC Santa Barbara and Southern Oregon University.

"I'm hopefully going to be playing in college," said Medina, who notched a goal on the day. "This is a brand new team. You get to play with new people, see how they play and develop new strategies."

"The level of the competition is a lot higher," said Bowerman, who picked up an assist. "It's getting to where it's around what I'll be seeing in college... The teams move the ball a lot faster than the teams we're used to playing with. You've got to keep up with them."

For Alas, another senior, it was a chance to go out on a high note and "play with the best" to end his lacrosse career.

"It's my last game of the season and it's an honor to end it on such a high note," Alas said.

For juniors Ugalbe and Lopez, the tournament was a learning experience they can use to benefit themselves next year.

"Hopefully being out here playing against other players who are better than me will make me better and I can take that into next season," Lopez said.

"Hopefully this will get [Ugalbe] feeling like he can be a leader for us next year because we're going to need him," Campbell said.

Campbell said the Pacific Lacrosse League All-Star Tournament provided everyone who competed a chance to face players who are at their skill level, a rare opportunity in California lacrosse because most players don't pick up the sport until high school.

"When guys get on the field in a regular game, they don't have 10 to 12 guys who can catch, throw and shoot," Campbell said. "Now they get to play with guys their age who know how to do all those things. It's not a game of who makes the least mistakes anymore."

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