With faceoff specialist Ryan Harnisch dominating the dot, St. Margaret’s ultimately wore down the Palos Verdes defense and broke open a tight game with a 6-0 fourth-quarter scoring edge to claim its second U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section title in three years, 14-8 over the Sea Kings.
Harnisch won 22 of 26 faceoffs, and though the Tartans (21-3) never managed to lead by more than two goals through the first three quarters, they did manage to keep the Sea Kings (17-6) on their heels. St. Margaret’s took 39 shots to PV’s 24, including a 22-12 shooting advantage in the first half.
That’s when the Tartans, behind three goals from midfielder Erik Suh, took two-goal leads on three different occasions but couldn’t pull away. PV junior attack Aidan Westley scored all three of his goals in the first quarter to keep the Sea Kings within 5-4 after one period. In the second quarter, sophomore attack Austin Lowi, junior middie Peter Henkhaus and senior middie Stanny Gilbertson each scored, helping PV forge a 7-7 halftime tie.
The Sea Kings took a brief 8-7 lead early in the third quarter on a Rizal Smith goal, but the rest was all St. Margaret’s. The Tartans tied it 8-8 a minute after Smith’s goal on the first of two goals from junior Sam Harnisch, then proceeded to rattle off five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Harnisch, a senior who will play at University of Denver next year, won five of six faceoffs in the fourth quarter to keep the Tartans rolling. Palos Verdes sent LSMs Jarrett Jones and Josh Park to the dot opposite Harnisch in an effort to contest ground balls after the clamp, but St. Margaret’s still came up with possession 19 of 22 times against the poles.
Suh led the Tartans with four goals and an assist, and Sam Harnisch, Nick Shanks and Nick Kuljis each scored twice, with Kuljis also recording two assists. Pat Fallon (1g, 2a), Kevin Cox (1g), Ryan Harnisch (1g) and Conrad Hampson (1g) also scored for St. Margaret’s.
Westley’s three goals led PV, and he also had an assist. Smith, Gilbertson and Henkhaus each had a goal and an assist; Lowi and Mikey Booth each scored once, and Jones had an assist. For Henkhaus, playing only his second game of the season after sitting out with an injury, his second-quarter goal was his first of the season.
PV goalie D McCann was credited with 12 saves, including five in the third quarter. St. Margaret’s goalie Payton Fales made 10 saves, seven in the second half.