By Galilea Oregon

Tustin High School’s Girls’ Lacrosse took on El Modena High School’s first ever lacrosse team this past Tuesday. Following two defeats in a row to start off the season, hopes appeared about as glum as the weather for Tuesday’s game. However, this match hit close to home for our Tillers as El Modena’s team is now coached by Tiller alumni and first generation girls’ lacrosse player Rei Aquino, ex-assistant coach for Girls’ LAX. It was clear from the initial draw that the Tillers were ready to prove their complete autonomy from the six year veteran coach.

The game started off with high energy on Tustin’s side, beginning with junior midfielder Daphne Tautuaa (#11) on draw.  As soon as the feared yellow rubber ball went into the air, junior midfielder, Citlaly Rodriguez (#3), lept with her trademark scoop-catch, gaining ball possession for Tustin within the first two minutes of the game. After an attempted and failed shot by Rodriguez, El Modena’s midfielder #5 snatched the ball, taking it all the way across the field. Luckily, Tustin was quick to recover with a seamless crash defense led by junior defender Anyah Smith (#6).

Quickly enough, sophomore attack player Samantha Hernandez (#4) put Tustin on the scoreboard leading 1-0. El Modena’s Vanguards relentlessly pushed through, following almost immediately after with their first goal scored by (#4). Tustin was not discouraged by this, as the Tillers retaliated with a second goal shot by Rodriguez. With Tautuaa (#11) on draw, junior midfielder and co-captain Andrea Palma (#7)  was able to score a third goal for Tustin. El Modena’s #5 proved she was a force to be reckoned with, scoring the Vanguards’ second goal. The Tillers didn’t let that to get to the Vanguards heads, Rodriguez came back and made a fourth goal, right after Tautuaa took the draw once again. With one minute remaining, Palma scored yet another goal, giving Tustin the lead with 5-2 at the end of the half.


After their 7 minute break and pep talk from coaches Max Maldonado and Anthony Briones, the Tillers reassembled, putting Palma at the center for the draw. Rodriguez once again caught the ball and sprinted for the goal. She was cut short as soon as she reached the 8-meter arc, and was fouled for a charge against a Vanguard defender. Ball possession switched to El Modena, but their inexperience could not match the swiftness of junior attacker Samantha Cantoran (#16) who managed to dive in for the groundball and head back to the 8-meter arc. El Modena’s defense was called for shooting space, and Cantoran successfully shot and scored Tustin’s sixth goal. El Modena’s #5 was unrelenting, taking the ball after the draw and successfully evading Tustin’s defense, scoring the Vanguards’ third goal. At the draw, Palma was able to catch the ball, run down the field entirely by herself, leaving behind the out-of-breath El Modena defenders and midfielders, scoring a seventh goal for the Tillers.

The final four minutes were the most eventful of Tuesday’s game. Following the draw by Palma, Cantoran swooped in, taking the ball to the Vanguards’ goal. She was bombarded by El Modena’s desperate defense, but was able to successfully dodge a double team and pass the ball to her sister, freshman attack player Brenda Cantoran (#22). This sister-to-sister assist marked the Tiller’s eighth goal, with only two and a half minutes left. After the final draw, with only a minute and a half left to the game, Rodriguez scored Tustin’s ninth and final goal, earning a hat-trick for herself along the way, and marking Tustin as the clear winner of this match with 9 goals to 3.

As Samantha Cantoran put it, after the Tillers’ loss to Rosary last week (13-4), “[they] were encouraged to give their 100%,” and now knew that “[they] were capable of working together to play successful lacrosse with the right communication, as evident from the game [against El Modena.]” After what appeared to be a rough start for the season, Tustin’s girls lacrosse proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with this year, and we will be on the watch for more dubs this season.

Girls’ Lacrosse plays their next home game next week, March 20 against Edison High School at 4:00 at Northrup Stadium. Come out and support our Tillers as they continue to strive for a winning season!

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