After the game with McLane, lacrosse goalie Jennifer Cisneros got out of the protective gear over her uniform and showed why it didn’t quite live up to its name.
Her bruises — about five of them and mostly on her legs — were about the size of the hard yellowish ball that McLane’s forwards hurled at her in her tiny goal. The Highlanders, visiting Tom Flores Stadium on April 30, wanted to score. Desperately.
Cisneros made that very difficult.
“I’m the target,” she said. “I just react to the ball.”
The senior is now in her second year fending off repeated game-time assaults by highly motivated athletes slinging the aforementioned ball into her goal with a small net affixed to a stick. And she’s a big reason this team rolled to a win against the overmatched McLane by a score of 8-3.
Cisneros said her Apaches “are coming up as a team,” and she called winning the best feeling. She said her teammates improved their shots and defense as the season progressed.
“We had to learn to work with each other, and we just built it up over time,” she said. “Last year, we had six returners. And we were all new.”
New head coach Marissa Caraveo said her plan is to build a strong program. She said this year a lot of new girls turned out, including girls basketball standout and senior Annie Lopez. “We’ve got so many new freshmen,” Caraveo said. “(And) they’re actually starting in the game.”
She singled out Lopez for praise. “She has grown so much,” Caraveo said. “This sport is really intense. You can get hit with a stick, kicked in the shin or hit with the ball.”
Just learning the rules and skills required to ferry a ball down the field while “cradling” it and playing defense effectively is tough. Lopez said she picked up the basics pretty quickly and just kept improving.
Lopez scored three goals, matching the number sophomore Meleanna Martinez had in the game. Senior Viviana Montes scored one and junior Mia Reyes another.
Lopez said she seriously considered joining the team in previous years after basketball season concluded but just never made the move.
She said she doesn’t like track or softball but really found lacrosse to be fun and challenging. She’s joined on the team by another varsity athlete, water polo player Victoria Torres, a junior.
“So, I said, I’m going to try it,” Lopez said. “(I was told you) just need to be athletic. I didn’t know the fundamentals, but I got the hang of them after the first game.”
Caraveo rallied her team just before the game started. “It’s a beautiful day for lacrosse,” she said. “Let’s get out there and get a win. Score as many goals as possible.”
The McLane goalie, sophomore Kashia Lee, prevented quite a few attempts, racking up at least a half dozen blocks.
And Caraveo predicted a robust future.
“I’m pretty excited about the coming seasons,” she said. “With all the freshmen I have.”
Junior Syria Gonzalez said her team is good.
“We know how to communicate,” she said. “A lot of the starters are new, so basically it’s teamwork. We put the anger to the other team.”
Junior Clarice Gutierrez said this was her first season. “We work really well together,” she said. “And we communicate. We really do support each other. A lot of new friendships (were formed).”