It’s been a season of many firsts for the Scotts Valley High girls’ lacrosse team, starting with playing in its first full season without any setbacks.
On Wednesday, the Falcons added their first-ever postseason win after a 17-7 victory over No. 11 seeded Gunn High in the opening round of the Central Coast Section playoffs.
Scotts Valley head coach Colleen Niklaus said she thought the match was much closer than she anticipated, but she was proud of how they responded on the big stage.
“Our goal scorers took control of the game and we worked together, did some modifications and it worked,” she said.
Niklaus is hoping the Falcons’ first trip and win in the playoffs will bring more visibility to the program within the county.
“I want the lacrosse program in Santa Cruz County to be legit,” she said.
No. 6 Scotts Valley (13-1), which is in its third year of existence, finished the season as co-champion—another first—of the Pacific Coast Athletic League with section powerhouse Stevenson (13-4).
Both teams finished 10-1 in league play.
However, a coin toss awarded the automatic CCS playoff berth to the Pirates, who earned the No. 4 seed and a bye in the first round.
Junior attacker Siena Wong looked past the situation and said she was just excited for a chance of getting to extend the season.
“I know the fourth seed you get to move on really quick but I’m really glad that we got to earn our position here,” she said.
Junior attacker Ellie Raffo said she wasn’t sure if they’d end up in the postseason. But their head coach had a strong feeling they’d get a shot because of how they performed during the regular season.
“It really got us all hyped up,” Raffo said when they found out about earning a playoff berth.
The Falcons scored a pair of goals in the first 90 seconds of the game and added two more to take a 4-0 lead.
Freshman attacker Taylor Santos, who is ranked No. 1 in California for points per game, notched two points to the stat sheet.
She started with an assist on a goal scored by Siena Wong, followed by a goal with 2:52 left in the first half that extended the Falcons lead to 7-3.
Santos now has 134 points—69 goals and 65 assists—this season, ranking her No. 3 in California behind El Segundo senior Sydnee Anne-Moeller (149) and Marin Catholic senior Kayla Conroy (174).
Scotts Valley added one more score just before the break when Niklaus found Raffo, who snuck it past the goalie with a backhand shot that gave them an 8-3 going into halftime.
“Every game we just try to do our best, that’s the goal,” Raffo said.
The second half was a replica of the first as Scotts Valley came out swinging first and often, starting with another goal from Santos.
However, a time out was called by Colleen Niklaus shortly after the Titans responded with a goal of their own.
“There were some parts that were a little bit shaky. I think we were still kind of overwhelmed,” Raffo said. “Time outs are just a good reminder to dial it back in and score goals.”
Raffo got in on the action in the second half by notching three points—one goal and two assists.
Both of her assists went to Santos, who finished the evening with eight goals for the Falcons.
Scotts Valley put the game out of reach after freshman midfielder Skylar Dufour scored her first goal of the night, followed by a blast to the back of the net by Wong with 4:45 left in the game.
Wong finished with five goals and one assist, and Raffo had three goals and three assists. Niklaus finished the match with three assists, while junior goalie Olivia Tenniti had nine saves.
“As a team we’re doing so great, but individually—me, Ellie [Raffo], Sofia [Niklaus], Taylor [Santos]—we’ve been playing together for such a long time, we really know how to play with each other and that’s what’s been so great,” Wong said.
Up next, the Falcons will take a road trip over Highway 17 to play at No. 3 Los Gatos (16-0) on Saturday at 6pm.
Wong mentioned she has friends who play for the Wildcatz, who are ranked No. 4 in the CCS and No. 28 in the state, according to the MaxPreps rankings.
“I’m super excited for that, I think it’s going to be super fun,” Wong said. “If we win or lose, I think it’ll be a good learning experience, overall.”
Los Gatos blazed through the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League with a 12-0 record in league play. They had a pair of wins against both Stevenson and Gunn, two opponents that Scotts Valley beat this season.
The Wildcats also beat Saint Francis of Mountain View, which is ranked No. 5 in the CCS lacrosse rankings on the MaxPreps website.
Los Gatos has a roster that’s 28 players deep, which includes standouts Sam Elliott, Tessa Dennon, Ava Bannon, Natasha Evenden and Keirra Dodd.
Senior goalie Maddie Holloway, who is set to play next year at Division I George Mason, and fellow senior teammate Lily Brennan are key to the defense.
“We do know a lot of them and it will be interesting to see how we’re going to match up,” Nicklaus said. “They are a lot deeper than we are as far as the supporting cast. It’s going to be a challenge but I am ecstatic to get there.”