Norsemen boys’ lacrosse program continues on the upswing

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Valhalla High School boys lacrosse coach Jason Balistreri doesn’t mince words when talking about the competition level in the seven-team Grossmont Conference. 

“We have two very good teams in our league, we hope to compete with them and finish in top half of the league,” he said after the Norsemen’s 10-2 non-league victory March 18 at Hilltop.

Valhalla High School boys lacrosse coach Jason Balistreri doesn’t mince words when talking about the competition level in the seven-team Grossmont Conference. 

“We have two very good teams in our league, we hope to compete with them and finish in top half of the league,” he said after the Norsemen’s 10-2 non-league victory March 18 at Hilltop.

Balistreri is referring to the conference’s resident heavyweights Grossmont and Granite Hills — elite programs that have dominated East County for the past decade.

Both the Foothillers and Eagles appear to once again be fielding strong teams. Entering the week, Grossmont (ranked 17th) and Granite Hills (ranked 24th) occupied the top spots among East County teams in the early season San Diego Section-wide LAXPower.com computer rankings.

Valhalla was ranked 27th out of the San Diego Section’s 49 teams and was third best among Grossmont Conference squads.

Still, the season remains early.

“We made the playoffs last year,” Balistreri noted on an optimistic note. “This is my third year here and we’ve improved every year.”

The Norsemen opened the season with an 11-1 setback at defending Metro Conference champion Eastlake on March 6, but reeled off a pair of non-league victories against visiting Bonita Vista (7-3 on March 13) and at Hilltop before engaging Grossmont.

Valhalla, which was scheduled to host El Capitan on Tuesday, returns to the field on Thursday, March 27, with a game at Santana and follows that with a game at Helix on April 1.

Regular season play runs through May 13, with the section playoffs to follow.

Balistreri lists defense as his team’s strong point and that seemed apparent in the victory at Hilltop. The host Lancers scored the game’s first goal but the Norsemen responded to take a 3-1 halftime lead and eventually extended that lead to 7-1 in the second half while holding the hosts at an arm’s length.

Valhalla fired off 33 shots and won 28 ground balls against Hilltop. Team leaders for the Norsemen included Braden LeValley with three goals and Sean Bernitz and Kevin Doggett each with two goals. Kellen Watelet, Jared Coffey and Ean Hendrickson scored the other goals for the victors.

Starting VHS goalie Michael Torgerson, the school’s 2013 Homecoming king, stopped eight Hilltop shots while back-up netminder Nick Daniels was credited with two saves.

“Michael Torgerson, our goalie, and Keegan Sutton, our D-pole, anchor our defense and allows us to be competitive every game,” Balistreri said.

Among East County teams, Grossmont is off to a 2-2 start while Granite Hills is 2-3, Helix (ranked 31st) is 3-2, El Capitan (ranked 33rd) is 2-4, Santana (ranked 40th) is 2-3 and Monte Vista (ranked 42nd) is 0-2.

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