History will be made on Tuesday, February 26 when the Canyon High School girls’ lacrosse team travels to Esperanza to play a game that will mark two milestones. It will be the first-ever varsity girls’ lacrosse game for Canyon and also the first for an Orange Unified School District program. The game grows!
Although lacrosse has thrived at neighboring Century League programs like Yorba Linda, El Dorado, Esperanza, and Foothill (Foothill competes as an independent in lacrosse) for years, it was not until last year that OUSD programs Canyon and El Modena joined the party with JV programs.
Although El Mo will not field a varsity program this year, second-year Head Coach Alison Cho and the Comanches are all in. They will play a seventeen-game varsity schedule that includes Century League rivals Esperanza, Yorba Linda, and El Dorado, as well as a challenging non-league schedule that includes perennial playoff contenders Los Alamitos and Tesoro.
Don’t be fooled by the Comanches lack of varsity experience. They have an experienced nucleus in sophomores Masin Kearney, Natalie Ringdahl, Sophie Ringer, Alicen Zebrow to build around and Cho’s coaching acumen to pull it all together.
Prior to firing up the Canyon program last year, Cho spent six years assisting Cressita Bowman at Mater Dei and three years coaching her alma mater, UCI. In what may have been one of the most underrated coaching performances of last season, Cho led her young, inexperienced JV squad to a 14-4-1 record last year.
Of the twenty players on the 2018 team, sixteen were lax newbies. Whatever that group lacked in experience, they made up for it with enthusiasm, determination, and willingness to learn.
“We were fortunate to have a few girls with playing experience who were also smart and hard-working.” Cho said by email. “We were able to dominate draws and possession to win most of our games. We also had a great group of 16 newcomers (most of which picked up their first stick in February) who fully committed to the program. We had a great group of girls, parents, and support from the school and were able to overcome the many challenges that come with being a brand new program (some of which included practices and games off-site, having to change practice location and completely change the practice schedule).
Cho expects the program to double in size this year with seventeen returning players and another 20 or so newcomers, enough to field varsity and JV teams and provide a foundation for future success.
Cho credited Brian Eisenberg’s NOC for helping to jump start the program by building the local talent pool and preparing young players for high school ball.
“We have three sophomores and two freshmen who played in the NOC youth program,” Cho said. “NOC has done a great job growing the game in North Orange County.”
As the Canyon girls lacrosse team enters its second year, the program seems to have everything in place for long-term success. Parent support? Check! Local youth programs? Check! Talent and enthusiasm? Check! Experienced coaches? Check!
Cho is very optimistic about the team’s future, and who can blame her.
“Our goals are always to give our best effort and have a positive attitude,” Cho said. “We focus on process rather than outcome. I believe we can be competitive in our league and make the playoffs in the next year or two. We have a talented young team and I am excited to see how we progress over the next few years.”