Glendale High girls' lacrosse claims Pacific League title

GLENDALE — In but its fourth year of existence, the Glendale High girls’ lacrosse team was able to accomplish something that no other Nitros girls’ squad has been able to in more than a decade.

Perhaps coming without the pomp and circumstance of some other more established sports, the Nitros simply took care of business and made school history on Friday afternoon with complete dominance and relative ease.

Scoring the first six goals of the match, the Nitros rolled to a 14-3 victory over Westridge, as Glendale won its first-ever Pacific League title.

“It’s honestly the most unreal moment of my life,” said Glendale senior Elibeth Torres, who has been with the program since its inception four years ago. “I’m very proud.

“All I want for [my teammates] is just for the school to appreciate them and for the school to realize how much hard work we put in.”

Glendale Coach Joe Campbell, who called Torres the “heart and soul of Glendale lacrosse,” has been the architect of the program, which previously competed in the Prep League before the program moved into the Pacific League this season for the league’s first-ever lacrosse campaign, which included Chaminade, Westridge, Louisville and La Cañada.

“It’s a great feeling, but I haven’t scored a goal in all these years,” Campbell said. “They did all the real work. … I’m proud of them, this is all their accomplishment.”

With the win, Glendale improved to 13-5, 7-1 in league to win a share of the title with Chaminade, which was defeated by the Nitros, 8-7, on Tuesday. Chaminade (7-1) clinched a share of the title via a 13-7 win over La Cañada.

“Mainly proud that we were able to do this and come this far in four years,” said Glendale senior defender Denise Guerrero of her emotions after the match.

The league title, just the second this year for Glendale following boys’ water polo, was the first for a girls’ team since 2003’s girls’ water polo squad.

“We couldn’t be more proud with how far the girls have come,” said Pat Lancaster, the Glendale athletic director who also coached the 2003 girls’ water polo team.

Junior Claire Bernardo, senior Odalis Luna and sophomore Marina Percastegui shared game-high honors with three goals apiece. Junior Ariella Ruiz and senior Roxie Rodriguez added two goals each and Torres had one to round out a balanced and thoroughly dominant performance against Westridge, which had previously lost to Glendale, 16-1.

A score with 15:05 to go in the first half by Luna gave Glendale a 6-0 advantage and was further proof that the Nitros’ win over Chaminade was, indeed, a championship triumph.

“Once we won on Tuesday, we kind of knew we already had this, we had the championship,” Torres said.

Westridge got to within 7-2 late in the first half, with both of its scores coming off Glendale fouls and free-position shots from 10 yards or closer.

Percastegui scored off a Luna assist with 28 seconds left for an 8-2 halftime advantage.

The tally also commenced a six-goal run for the Nitros, continued just a minute into the second half when Luna took a behind-the-net pass from Torres to score and make it 9-2. A Bernardo score, a Percastegui goal off another Luna assist and finally a Luna wrap-around all came in a flurry of less than two minutes.

“It was just waiting for the clock,” Guerrero said.

Soon after the clock ran down, Glendale walked the length of the field to Queen’s “We are the champions,” before posing for pictures, taking a victory lap and dancing on the field.

For Campbell, the goal of winning league was a realistic one from the season’s genesis.

“We talked about standing out on this field and listening to ‘We are the champions,’” Campbell said. “I told them to be sure to work hard enough to be able to listen to that song and they did.”

Going forward, a playoff meeting will take place Sunday with the playoffs likely to begin on Tuesday.

As for Pacific League lacrosse, it’s set to add Crescenta Valley next season.

“It’s getting bigger,” Guerrero said.

For now though, Glendale has a Friday triumph to look back on that was far from dramatic, but rife with history.

Said Guerrero: “It was our goal and we believed in it.”


Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.

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