This week’s look back at ‘Nado Natterings’ columns from the past is actually the first of two-parter, which covers both the Boys and Girls Lacrosse Teams winning CIF Division II titles in the Spring of 2011. Both teams were dominant and this week, we’ll cover the Girls title run. As an aside, Caroline Carlson in this column from May 25, 2011, is now Caroline Dineen-Carlson, the current Head Coach of the Islander Girls Lacrosse Team.
Saturday the Coronado High School Lacrosse teams, their parents and families invaded Westview High School for a pair of CIF Division II championship games and both Islander squads emerged victorious. The 2011 season marked the first time that the sport of lacrosse had been split into two divisions, with Coronado assigned to Division II due to the size of the school’s enrollment. We’ll address the irony of that concept further into the column.
First up were the Islanders Girls, who entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, and they played to that level. Their Quarterfinal game was a 23-6 win over Santana at home, and they followed that effort last Thursday by a 16-3 Semifinal win over Canyon Crest. Coronado found the No. 3 seeds from Cathedral Catholic as their opponents in the Finals and dominated the Dons 13-3. Frankly the game wasn’t that close.
Kaitlyn Couture, who is about as close to an unstoppable force as you are going to find in prep sports, scored the Islanders first goal a little less than two minutes into the game. Alex Reidy scored on an assist from Caroline Carlson about a minute later. A Dons goal with 20:57 remaining in the half temporarily halted the Islanders momentum.
At 15:06, Coronado began raining goals on Cathedral, with Lauren Maack starting the scoring storm. Then Couture scored from a Mollie Privett assist, Maack scored on a Couture assist, and Michaela Guerrera scored two unassisted goals. The Dons scored with five minutes remaining in the half, but Couture and Carlson countered with goals of their own to make the score 9-2 at intermission.
To add to the scoring deluge, the Islanders had the first three goals of the second half, with Privett scoring on an assist from Martha Byrne, Maack scoring from a Guerrera assist and Carlson scoring an unassisted tally. Leading by the score of 12-3, Coronado Head Coach Jessica Battle began mixing in her younger players with the established veterans. The most excited youngster in the group was Mary Grace Braun who scored the final Coronado goal of the afternoon.
The Islander offensive attack was highlighted by precision passing that constantly created fast break scoring opportunities for the Islanders. A foot race among Coronado speedsters Brianne Clifford, Maack and Guerrera would be worth the price of admission and honestly would have been more entertaining than the final five minutes of the game.
Defensively Coronado never let Cathedral generate any offensive momentum, often shutting down the Dons scoring attempts before they developed. Coronado goalie Meganne Weissenfels had 11 saves and together the defensive backfield and Weissenfels shut out the Dons leading goal scorer.
For her part, Couture completed her prep career with three goals, 12 ground balls controlled to go with winning 12 of 16 draw controls. Although the USC-bound Couture seemingly kicked Cathedral’s team all over the field all game long, she also won Coronado’s portion of the CIF Finals Sportsmanship Award.
So, you might ask, ‘How good is the 2011 Islanders team?’ “Honestly I would say this is the strongest team I have had at Coronado,” said Battle. “It’s all relative, but the caliber of play has gotten that much better over the years. This is such a great group of girls and they worked very well together. I feel that I have a solid team below me (the junior varsity) and they are a strong group of girls. It’s exciting for the program and the direction it is going to take.”
Three sports-related websites have state ratings for California prep lacrosse teams. LaxPower.com ranked Coronado No. 1 in the state as did MaxPreps.com. WestSideLax.com ranked Coronado No. 2 in the state behind St. Ignatius Prep from the Bay Area. So, the consensus is that Coronado was the best team in the state.
And yet they couldn’t play for the Division I title. To add insult to injury, the Islanders had already defeated both of the Division I finalists from Torrey Pines and Rancho Bernardo this season. At their respective Lacrosse post season banquets, both Battle and Boys Head Coach Alex Cade will begin the uphill challenge of having Coronado rejoin Division I in the future.
Battle was philosophical about the Islanders inclusion in Division II. “The girls are really happy. And yes, we were the best team. We got the recognition we deserved. I know everything (playing in DII) happens for a reason, but I don’t know what that reason was. The Finals were fun, and it was just a great team effort. We just played our game, had fun and did what we had to do.”
The future looks bright as well, according to Battle. In addition to the strong JV program, several varsity members return next season. “I have only one-third of my starting lineup graduating, and 50 percent of my starting lineup are freshmen and sophomores. We have some good things in the works.”