Elena Torres Stays Headstrong, Leads Foothill-Santa Ana to CIF Southern Title

PHOTO COURTESY OF FOOTHILL-SANTA ANA (CALIF.)


A one-goal loss to St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.) didn’t sit well with the Foothill-Santa Ana High School girls’ lacrosse team, but opponents saw what Elena Torres did against one of the state’s top teams and knew they had to faceguard her.

Torres scored six goals in that defeat, and she found herself having to adjust to different looks from defenses over the next several games — and doing so successfully. A few weeks later, she scored five goals against a quality La Jolla (Calif.) team, and Torres continued to dominate while helping Foothill repeat as CIF Southern Section champions.

The senior attacker/midfielder is the USA Lacrosse Magazine West Girls’ Player of the Year after finishing with 71 goals, 27 assists, 96 ground balls, 26 caused turnovers and 47 draw controls for the top-ranked Knights, who went 21-1.

“After St. Ignatius, we got our loss out and had something to learn from,” Torres said. “I think it fired us all up to want to get to that next point and ready to win another championship. It was the best team we played this season, and coming up short, we didn’t like that feeling so it was a good lesson. For me, it was getting faceguarded. I learned to deal with adversity with that. That was something I had to adapt to because I got face-guarded the rest of the season, so that helped me learn to navigate.”

Only one team kept Torres from scoring. San Clemente shut her out a week after the St. Ignatius game, but she had two assists in the 8-6 win. In the biggest games, she stepped up to an even greater level — like the Southern Section final against Santa Margarita (Calif.) when she finished with five goals and one assist. Foothill finished on a 17-game winning streak.

Torres said the key was not getting in her own head when opponents were face-guarding her.

“If I got in my head, it was game over,” Torres said. “I decided to think about what I could do to help my team instead of getting in my head and thinking about what I couldn’t do. My teammates helped get me out of those faceguards a lot, but just not thinking about it and thinking more about my team helped me.”

Assisting her teammates was a big focus this season to begin with, as she wanted to expand her game to become even more well-balanced. Torres was asked to do more on draws and she stepped up more on defense as well.

The 5-foot-1 Villanova signee won 60 percent of her draw attempts and finished with 47 draw controls. She also doubled her ground ball total from last year, registering 98 of them, and more than doubled her 11 caused turnovers from last year.

“Elena was an integral part of our success this year on the field in getting our second CIF Southern Section championship,” coach Cristina Johnson said. “She was a powerhouse on the attack when driving to goal and looking for cutters. No matter the matchup of the other team putting on their best defender or even face-guarding, Elena couldn't be stopped. She was also a huge part of the draws, which helped us maintain possession and control the pace of the game. On defense, she was always a threat with caused turnovers and outstanding defense. She's a standout player in all of California.”







Torres started playing lacrosse in sixth grade as a defender. Foothill boys coach Jon Fox had been running a clinic at her elementary school, and she had just quit gymnastics and was looking for something new to do. It didn’t take long to realize a love for lacrosse.

Although she switched to midfield in middle school and transitioned into even more of an attacker in high school, Torres still enjoyed playing good defense and trying to win the ball back for her team. Even in some of her more low-scoring games, she was still contributing at a high level with assists, caused turnovers and ground balls.

“I wanted another ring,” Torres said. “That was the big goal. I love playing with this team so stats didn’t matter, but I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team so we all got to the end goal. My teammates are always assisting me, so I felt I needed to step out of the bubble and focus more on my teammates and other parts of my game, and I felt like I did that. We all worked together.”

FINAL WEST TOP 10

1. Foothill-Santa Ana (Calif.), 21-1

The Knights repeated as CIF Southern Section champions, beating Santa Margarita (Calif.) 18-9 in the final. They ended the season on a 17-game winning streak, following a one-goal loss to St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.), and finished with four wins against West-ranked teams. West Region Player of the Year Elena Torres led the team with 71 goals and 27 assists, Taylor Puma added 48 goals and 22 assists, and Zoey Stephens – a junior – chipped in 45 goals and 18 assists. Previous: 1

2. Colorado Academy (Colo.), 18-1

The Mustangs won their seventh consecutive state title, beating Valor Christian (Colo.) 13-9 in the Class 5A final for their eighth overall championship. They also won a title in 2000 before the current run. CA sent long-time coach Laura Sandbloom off on a high note as she is stepping down to move closer to family. Sophomore Zoe Martin led the attack with 59 goals and three assists, junior Anna Colpack added 34 goals and 12 assists, and the team is set to return six of its seven players that scored 20 goals or more. Previous: 2

3. St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.), 19-2

The Wildcats topped Sacred Heart Prep (Calif.) 11-10 to claim the CIF Central Coast title. Their lone losses were to Colorado Academy (Colo.) and Cherry Creek (Colo.), and they outscored their opponents 349-119. St. Ignatius did beat Foothill on March 17 and had a notable win over La Jolla (Calif.) as well. Previous: 3

4. Valor Christian (Colo.), 15-4

The Eagles finished as state runners up for a second straight season, falling to Colorado, 13-9, in the final. Valor had lost to the Mustangs earlier in the season by four goals, and those were its only in-state losses. The Eagles’ two other defeats were against Florida Class 1A champion Lake Highland Prep and Florida Class 2A runner up Vero Beach. Sophomore Eliza Osburn led the attack with 68 goals and 13 assists, senior Tessa Osburn added 53 goals and 10 assists, and junior Reagan Digby had 49 goals and 47 assists. Previous: 4

5. La Jolla (Calif.), 15-4

The Vikings avenged their 2021 CIF San Diego Open final loss to Scripps Ranch (Calif.), beating the two-time defending champions 9-8 to claim this year’s title. La Jolla also beat Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) in the semifinals, which served as the rubber match after the two split a pair of regular-season meetings. The only other in-state losses were to Foothill and St. Ignatius. Luca DeMaio led the team with 83 goals, 15 assists, 79 draw controls and 30 ground balls, and Hailey Dommers was an impact player coming back from an injury midseason to tally 27 goals, one assist, 38 draw controls and 20 ground balls. Previous: 5

6. Fairview (Colo.), 15-3        

The Knights steamrolled ThunderRidge (Colo.) in the quarterfinals but couldn’t avenge an early-season loss to Valor Christian in the Class 5A semifinals. Just like their one-goal loss in the second game of the season, they just came up short, falling 15-14 in overtime to the eventual runner-up. Fairview’s only other loss was against Colorado Academy in the season opener. Cami Johnson paced the team with 64 goals, 22 assists. Previous: 6

7. Santa Margarita (Calif.), 17-3

The Eagles lost to Foothill for a second time this season, failing to win the rematch of their March 1 defeat in the CIF Southern Section final. They avenged their only other loss to Redondo Union (Calif.) by winning their semifinals rematch May 7. Molly Jacobson (77 goals, 17 assists), Paige Peters (68 goals, 11 assists), Caroline Sanders (60 goals, 27 assists), and Catie Maroutsos (51 goals, 20 assists) gave Santa Margarita plenty of firepower on offense. Previous: 7

8. Mercer Island (Wash.), 15-1

After two years without playoffs (and no season at all in 2020), the Islanders finally had a chance to repeat as state champions. The senior class that was part of the last Washington state title in 2019 finished the way it started, beating Issaquah (Wash.) 15-3 in the final. Mercer Island had lost nine seniors from the 2021 team but outscored opponents 228-64 and only two opponents scored more than five goals against the Islanders. Returning starter Molly Brodsky paved the way, recording 52 goals, 19 assists, 40 ground balls and 98 draw controls. Previous: 8

9. Jesuit Portand (Ore.), 17-0

Jesuit beat Lake Oswego (Ore.) in the Oregon Girls Lacrosse Association state final to claim a third consecutive championship. Before COVID-19 canceled the 2020 season and 2021 postseason, the Crusaders won the 2019 state championship, also beating Lake Oswego by a goal. Piper Daskalos totaled 62 goals, 21 assists to power the offense. Previous: 9

10. Redwood (Calif.), 21-3

The Giants claimed their first North Coast Section Division I championship, beating San Ramon Valley 14-12 in the final May 12. Redwood split games with Marin Catholic (Calif.) this season, winning the rematch, and its other losses were by one goal to Sacred Heart Prep in March and to St. Ignatius. Previous: 10

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