Two of Orange County’s top girls lacrosse teams met Thursday afternoon in an early season showdown, but only one team showed that it may be ready to compete for a championship this season.
Los Alamitos scored the first 10 goals of the match, and then coasted the rest of the way to easily defeat El Toro, 13-3, at Glen Yelmo Elementary School in Mission Viejo.
The Griffins (3-0), ranked No. 1 in the county by the Orange County Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse, have won 43 consecutive games over the past two seasons and have captured two straight county titles and two Division 1 championships. However, with a coaching change this year, some people may have been wondering if the Griffins would be the same dominating team as they had been in the past two seasons.
During the off-season, Meredith Meyran resigned and moved to the East Coast with her husband, Kevin, the former Los Alamitos boys lacrosse coach. She was replaced by Liz Connelly, who is in her first year with the Griffins lacrosse program.
Looks as if they haven’t missed a beat.
Los Alamitos outshot the Chargers 20-8, including 3-1 in the free position, and won 16 of the 25 draws by the teams. The Griffins also were the more aggressive team, collecting 25 fouls to the Chargers’ 13.
Four players scored three goals each for Los Alamitos: seniors Torrey Bailey, Melissa Hastie and Allie Conrad and sophomore Julie Crowell. Conrad, a four-year varsity player, has scored three three-goal “hat tricks” in the first three matches of the season. She also finished with a team-high three assists.
“I’ve been playing a lot better than last year. I’ve put in lot of work, but I really want to work on my assists,” said Conrad, one of the co-captains. “There’s a big difference this year. We lost a lot of players from last year, but we’re communicating better. We also want to keep [the win streak] up. We expect to win every game.”
The Chargers (1-1), ranked fourth in the preseason, defeated Mater Dei 10-9 in their season opener. However, against Los Alamitos, they didn’t score until 41 seconds remained in the first half on a goal by senior Kylie Gilmour. After being dominated in the first half, El Toro played the Griffins nearly even in the second, with Los Alamitos holding a 3-2 goal advantage. Melissa Fazio and McKinna Krieghoff scored goals for the Chargers against sophomore goalkeeper Emily Alpaugh, who finished with nine saves.
A bright spot for El Toro was the play of goalkeeper Danica Kristiansen, who came on in the first half and allowed only five goals while making 13 saves. Kristiansen was named first team all-league and all-county last year with 203 saves.
“Danica is very aggressive. She likes to take chances but I trust her completely,” said first-year Chargers coach Scott Craycraft. “We just didn’t play our game. We know what we have to work on to get to the end. It’s still a mental game. The biggest thing is we’ve got to maintain our position. Los Al did a great job of pushing the ball in the middle. We’ve got to play better.”
For the Griffins, however, they already look to be in mid-season form.
“I expect close matches every game,” Connelly said. “[El Toro] is a very good team and they have a solid offense. We pushed them early and got some goals, but we definitely need some work in a few areas.”