Nitros girls take step forward in newest athletic program

GLENDALE — When the Glendale High girls' lacrosse team entered its first season as a CIF-sanctioned team, Coach Joe Campbell had no idea what he would be getting from his cast of players.

It turned out the Nitros didn't win any matches, mostly because they struggled scoring. However, their defense proved to be their biggest strength.

"We were close in a few games, but it turned out to be a tough transition for a lot of the players and we scheduled our matches so late," said Campbell, whose team finished 0-10-1 and 0-6 in a Prep League that featured La Cañada, Chadwick and Westridge. "I thought our league was pretty even, but things didn't work out for us.

"With our league, La Cañada won it and Chadwick was a better team than we thought they would be. We didn't fare all that well against Chadwick.

"We improved tremendously as the season moved along. We would go into our games with six players who had some experience and six who didn't have that much. We learned what the rules were and what the officials would call. We had teams that would come up to us and tell us that we played great defense. We need to score a lot of goals to win and we just didn't have enough scorers."

Glendale began its season March 5 competing in the Rose Bowl Jamboree, a tournament Campbell spearheaded nearly 10 years ago. The tournament is geared to showcase top-caliber high schools from Southern California and other squads looking to learn the game.

The Nitros finished fourth out of six squads in the tournament's blue division and advanced to the division's consolation championship match against Yorba Linda with the best goal differential.

At season's end, the Nitros had three players receive all-league recognition in junior center Jenna Nance, senior attacker Magdalena Ramirez and junior defensive midfielder Elena Pierce. Nance earned a spot on the first team, while Ramirez and Pierce drew second-team accolades.

"I think it was a good learning experience for the entire team," Nance said. "Most of the players were new to the game and the learning will benefit us for next year.

"It was a challenge to go out there, but it was pretty fun. We've come a long way."

Nance collected 18 goals and three assists for Glendale, which received a team-high 20 goals and four assists from Ramirez and five goals and two assists from Pierce.

"They all came into their own," said Campbell, who runs the school's construction academy and played lacrosse in high school and college before being inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame's Greater Los Angeles chapter in 2008. "With Jenna, she always wanted the ball every time and she had the ability to get the ball, go to the goal and score.

"Magdalena controlled the ball a lot on offense and she was usually double- or triple-teamed and she still scored a lot. Elena was a very aggressive defender and she had a lot of caused turnovers."

Campbell said Nance and Pierce figure to be the top featured players next season for the Nitros, who carried 25 players this season and will look to field a more balanced and experienced team in 2012.

Campbell added that the Nitros will look to bring in a core of freshmen who will stabilize the program's future and compliment the returners.

"I think you'll see that the numbers will grow for us," Campbell said. "We will lose a couple of experienced players, but we want to have a bit more balance and experience.

"We should have about eight seniors next season, along with five juniors and eight to 10 sophomores."

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