The “West Valley League” of lacrosse just doubled in size; El Camino Real has boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams, joining Birmingham High School as the only other school in the West Valley League with lacrosse teams. El Camino is making a play to become a City section presence in yet another sport.
Over the last few years, the Conquistadores have brought home the West Valley League and City titles in cross country, wrestling, baseball, volleyball and soccer, and have seen athletes on diving and track win individual awards. Now El Camino will look to add another banner to the proverbial rafters.
Southern California may not be known as a hotbed for lacrosse, but the sport has grown in the area. Youth leagues across the Valley and throughout Los Angeles have began to gain membership and more and more high school teams have become competitive. While the CIF Los Angeles City Section is still in a growth period, with Palisades coming in as one of the top teams.
While the City section is not fully competitive and still adding new teams, the Southern and San Diego Sections are in full swing. Sporting some of the nation’s top teams, these two sections of California Lacrosse show what may lie in the distant future for the City Section.
La Costa Canyon, the top team in California and the fourth best team in the nation last season according to Maxpreps, has been a state and national powerhouse for at nearly a decade and Torrey Pines, another San Diego-area sports perennial contender, are two teams that exemplify the best of SoCal lacrosse and sports in general; teams that are consistently pumping out high-level players and putting themselves in the upper echelon of the national rankings.
While Los Angeles doesn’t have the same reputation nationally as San Diego might, it is a growing base for competitiveness. Loyola High School, the No. 4 team in California last season, won its last nine games against stiff Southern Section competition to win the Southern Section finals against Foothill, a top-15 team in the state, even though they lost to both La Costa Canyon and Torrey Pines early on in the year.
For El Camino, the expectations are probably not to get to the top in their inaugural season. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, a Southern Section neighbor of El Camino, won only one game in their league last season, and Birmingham finished below .500 in Conference A, which featured the Palisades Dolphins, a top-75 team in California, and the Hamilton Yankees, both schools the Conquistadores have faced in other sports, most recently football.
The team will face the inherent challenges of a new team. They will try to remain competitive enough to continue to draw more players to the school while also working through building knowledge of the team, and creating a fan base and gaining media exposure in the area. But with almost 70 students trying out for the two teams, El Camino has at least gotten their shot.