The countdown continues. Yesterday, we brought you teams 20 through 16 in our preseason Top 20.
Today, we look at five more. These rankings are based in part on a poll of area coaches — which will be released next week — with a bit of editorial license taken based on a half-dozen seasons of watching prep lacrosse in the L.A. area.
15. Malibu (2014 record: 6-8)
The Sharks lost 12 seniors off their 2013 team and struggled to a 6-8 record last spring with 11 freshmen and sophomores on the roster. This year, with coach Mark DeOliveira heading into his third season and a solid, experienced roster returning, things are looking better. Malibu moves from Independent to the new Gold Coast League — with Brentwood, Viewpoint and Sierra Canyon — and has the opportunity to claim an automatic bid to the U.S. Lacrosse playoffs.
Key nonleague games: at Oaks Christian, March 5; vs. Newbury Park, March 11; at Oak Park, March 24.
14. Culver City (2014: 11-8)
The Centaurs won the inaugural season of the Ocean League and made the playoffs, and they did it with a very young roster. At least seven all-league caliber players are back this year, including league MVP Elliott Stanger, a senior middie. Others coming off all-league honors include sophomore attacks Peter Pina and Tyler McIntosh; senior middie Nick Vu and junior middie Cayden Nakashima; junior LSM Anthony Overton and junior goalie Cole Thompson. That’s a pretty solid lineup for coach Casey Chabola, the league’s coach of the year in 2014.
But Chabola stacked the schedule for his squad this year, playing three Mission League teams, Westlake from the Marmonte League and all four Bay League teams. If the Centaurs survive and make the playoffs, they will be battle-tested.
Key nonleague games: at Chaminade, March 2; vs. Harvard Westlake, March 4; at Redondo Union, March 6; vs. Westlake, March 11; vs. Mira Costa, March 13; at Palos Verdes, March 16; vs. Peninsula, April 8; vs. Crespi, April 29.
13. Oaks Christian (2014: 8-7)
Three of the Lions’ losses last year came in overtime, and another came 10-9 at Oak Park in the first round of the playoffs. That’s how close last year’s senior-laden team was to a very different overall record. This year will be a bit different, with all those seniors gone, but there is plenty of talent remaining.
Sophomore Lorenzo Santor tallied 39 points (21 G, 19 A) as a freshman and is expected to anchor a talented, young attack line with Seamus O’Brien and Cort Rogers. Senior captain Mark Shide and junior Cole Eisel will lead the middies, with junior captain Kaveh Torabian anchoring the defense alongside Connor Macleod, a transfer from the Seattle area.
Key games: As an independent, the Lions can schedule freely, and they didn’t go light. Oaks plays 10 games against Marmonte League teams, three vs. Mission League teams, plus Peninsula and Oak Park.
12. Redondo Union (2014: 8-8)
A lot has changed for the Sea Hawks since their 10-9 loss to Westlake in the first round of the playoffs last May — the team’s fifth one-goal loss of the season. New coach Adam Sear takes over after spending four seasons at NCAA D-III Stevenson and two at D-III Ferrum College. But gone is Bay League middie of the year Harrison Faecher, now at Stevenson, Sear’s last coaching stop. Sear does have a big group of seniors to lean on, along with junior attack Preston Faecher, who is committed to Maryland, Sear’s alma mater. The seniors are led at attack by Josh Williamson (committed to D-I Marquette), at midfield by John Langford (committed to D-II LIU Post) and on defense by Joey Vigil (first-team All-Bay last spring) and Jake Hopper.
Key nonleague games: vs. Westlake, March 3; vs. Culver City, March 6; at Oak Park, March 31; at Agoura, April 3.
11. Agoura (2014: 8-9)
The Chargers return a solid defense and are one of a couple of teams right on the edge of our Top 10. Ultimately, we left them at 11 as a preseason spot until we see what kind of offense they can put together. Defense, on the other hand, shouldn’t be an issue, with senior Syracuse commit Jonah Swigart (All-American and first-team All-Marmonte League last year), junior Joe Glassman, junior Keagan Gauthier and freshman LSM Cooper Isaacs holding it down in front of junior goalie Jason Pawlak.
Senior middie and faceoff specialist Mitch Galer, committed to NCAA D-III MIT, should give the team plenty of possession time, which leads to our big question: Who will score? Agoura averaged 9.18 goals per game overall last year but only 4.91 in 11 games against playoff-caliber opponents. If the Chargers can generate some offense, this team could be dangerous and definitely able to finish in the Top 10 despite starting just outside it (at least on our list).
Key nonleague games: vs. Harvard Westlake, March 6; vs. Oaks Christian, April 1; vs. Redondo Union, April 3; vs. Oak Park, April 14; at Crespi, April 27.