Spartans, Tigers looking for new beginnings

Both the La Cañada High and Westridge Schools girls’ lacrosse teams will look for success in the Prep League with new coaches at the helm.

The Spartans will look to Kyle Smith to lead the team after they finished 2011 with a 10-8, 5-1 in league record.

It will be a new-look team after La Cañada graduated eight seniors last year including, Prep League Most Valuable Player Lucy Dodson and its top three goal scorers.

“We have a relatively young team because almost all our varsity team last year was seniors,” Smith said. “We have four returning varsity players, but I coached junior varsity last year so they know my style and how I coach.”

Caroline Gordon is returning for her senior season to anchor La Cañada’s defense in goal after blocking nearly half the shots she faced with a 47% save percentage with 123 saves on 258 shots on goal.

“She's been a four-year starter,” Smith said. “It's great to have that experience back there.”

Katherine Landesman figures to see an expanded role as an attacker in her senior season after earning second-team all-league honors as a junior midfielder with six goals, four assists and 47 ground balls.

Smith is happy with his team, but doesn't quite know what to expect from this season as his team just began practicing on a full field Friday due to both of the school’s soccer teams’ playoff runs.

“It's been hard to gauge how we move and how we play on an actual field so far,” Smith said. “I was really pleased with [Friday] so I am hoping the fact they've all been playing together for a while pays off.” 

Westridge will look to improve on its 4-10, 2-4 in league record from last year under first-year Coach Theresa Mullally.

“It is actually looking pretty good,” Mullally said. “We have a strong base of upperclassmen that have returned and we have some underclassmen that are quite strong as well. All in all we have a few players who are very athletic and are picking [the sport] up quite quickly. It is going to be a promising season.”

Four upperclassmen return to lead the Tigers, who graduated just two seniors last year. Eda Reed, a senior, will hold down the center position after scoring 11 goals and posting three assists last year.

Elizabeth Chemel, Annsley Matthiessen and Lili Lim highlight an impressive core of juniors.

Mattiessen scored 18 times last season, the second most for Westridge behind sophomore midfielder Tatum Mannion (20). Chemel had nine goals with one assist in 2011.

Lim figures to be the Tigers’ most dominant defender this year.

Even with the talent, Mullally hasn’t set a mark for how many games she wants her team to win this year. Her main focus is continued improvement and player development.

“We have a team goal of improving from last season,” Mullally said. “We also have personal goals, whether it’s switching hands or some players have goals where they want to score more goals than they did last year or something like that.

“We want a stronger season and a more cohesive team overall.”

Mullally also hopes the squad will draw some attention and interest on campus.

“I think the team will be stronger than last year,” Mullally said. “We are mostly upperclassmen, juniors and seniors, so I am hoping to generate a lot of interest by having a good successful season.”

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