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Going into their high school careers at San Clemente, neither Charlotte or Sophia Yeskulsky had ever picked a lacrosse stick.
The now-sophomore twin sisters had and continue to play soccer extensively, but neither had switched from using their feet to their hands as scoring tools until just under two years ago. Although, you’d never know it.
The Yeskulskys have gone from novices to team leaders in a near instant, as Sophia and Charlotte far and away lead the rolling San Clemente girls lacrosse team in goals, including five goals each in another South Coast League obliteration of Aliso Niguel, 24-0, on Tuesday, April 18.
Sophia leads the Tritons this season with 58 goals with Charlotte right behind with 56 goals—both totals more than double that of their nearest teammates. Sophia led San Clemente with 62 goals last season with a 21-goal margin for the team lead. Charlotte only scored seven goals last season, but that’s only due to an ACL injury that kept her out until midseason.
“We have really great hand-eye coordination, so really the stick skills, with time, it came,” Sophia said of picking up the sport. “Then learning the rules of the game and through summer league. It came together. From soccer, the athleticism transferred over.”
While both have been strong contributors for the San Clemente girls soccer team, they have flourished in the open game of girls lacrosse.
“There’s a lot more freedom and creativity, especially going down the field,” Charlotte said. “Using that creativity to explore what you want to do. Soccer’s always been like, pass, pass, pass, pass. There’s combinations, but lacrosse just allows us take over the game.”
That free-flowing nature has also allowed the Yeskulskys to utilize their twin superpower—the sixth sense of knowing where the other is or how they’re thinking. Sophia is second on the team with 17 assists, and Charlotte is third with 13 assists.
“I think so,” Sophia said on if they have that twin mind meld. “We’ve played together for so long that it’s there. You’ll see some plays she’ll just know where I am, and everyone’s like, ‘How did you do that?’ And it’s just like I don’t know.”
For San Clemente’s overall purposes, it doesn’t hurt that they’ve built a similar connection with senior leader Emma Massamiri, who is the team’s assists leader with 35—double either of the Yeskulskys and five times that of the closest teammate outside the top three. Along with the Yeskulskys, Massamiri, who is third on the team in goals with 26, is half of one set of four pairs of sisters on the Tritons roster.
With their top scoring options, San Clemente (10-3, 5-0) has been dominating its South Coast League competition.
After testing themselves early against top CIF-SS competition, the Tritons have won eight games in a row, including putting up a combined 109-18 score line in five South Coast League games.
“With league, we’ve been able to expand our offense and expand our plays,” Sophia said. “So we’ve been able to come up with a few set plays that we’ve been able to utilize and perfect.”
San Clemente’s three losses have only come against ranked CIF-SS competition and in three of the team’s first four games against No. 1 Foothill, No. 7 Edison and No. 9 Murrieta Mesa. The Tritons are ranked No. 6 in the latest poll.
Foothill’s 11-7 win over San Clemente on Feb. 28 remains the Knights’ closest result against CIF-SS competition. It’s something for the Tritons to mark down, as San Clemente wasn’t at full speed with its health or execution in its third game of the season.
“As a team, we hadn’t hit that chemistry yet,” Sophia said. “We didn’t quite know where everyone was. Our offense wasn’t working. We didn’t have any plays down. It was really a good learning opportunity, so that next time we see Foothill in the playoffs we’re good to go.”
Although, there is the question as San Clemente dices up its South Coast League competition with extreme ease, how are the Tritons going to be prepared for the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs if they haven’t been tested in nearly two months?
Along with diversifying their offensive strikes, as mentioned earlier, the Yeskulskys said the team has been focusing on its defensive efforts and its control off the draws. Massamiri and Sophia Yeskulsky are the players on the draw for San Clemente.
“It’s focusing on the little things so that we know when we face bigger teams like Foothill that’s not an issue for us,” Charlotte said of the team’s focus in these league blowouts. “In the game (against Foothill) this season, we weren’t on the same page that definitely was a problem. In tight games, defense is what we need to get a stop.”
San Clemente has three more opportunities to sharpen that focus before the CIF-SS playoffs begin in two weeks. In two years of CIF-SS administration of girls lacrosse playoffs, San Clemente won its first-round game in 2021, but lost in the quarterfinals that year and in the first round last year.
“We want to go all the way this year. This team is probably the best that San Clemente has ever seen,” Sophia said. “We feel like, with our upper classmen, we have the ability to go all the way. At this point, we talked as a team, we don’t care who we face. It’s taking one game at a time and preparing right. We know we can do it.”
The Tritons host Trabuco Hills on Thursday, April 20, and play at El Toro on Friday, April 21. San Clemente closes out at home against San Juan Hills on Wednesday, April 26.
For the Yeskulskys, the world of lacrosse has opened up to them, and while they still have plenty of time to play both lacrosse and soccer, the Triton twins have seen their paths change quickly.
“That’s been a really big decision this past year,” Charlotte said of looking ahead. “Soccer, we’ve always played it since we were little. Lacrosse has just had so many more opportunities for us.”
So many opportunities, and so much time for the Yeskulskys to skyrocket toward them.
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