Third-ranked Harvard Westlake went on the road Saturday and wrapped up its regular season on a high note, cruising past No. 8 Oak Park 15-6 and solidifying its claim to a top seed when playoff pairings are announced Sunday.
Wolverines’ senior Asher Early wore the No. 7 jersey of starting goalie Alex Russell for Saturday’s game, but he was was easy to recognize, nonetheless. Early (6g, 1a) and fellow senior Harrison Listen (4g, 1a) led the Wolverines’ offense and took control right from the get-go. Early scored four of his six goals in the first half, and Listen had two goals and two assists in the first 24 minutes of play.
“Harrison and Asher have been big for us,” Wolverines coach Erik Krum said. “They’re fast, they’re athletic, and they draw a lot of attention. So our off-ball offense and our off-ball movement was really big [Saturday]. We have a lot of goal scorers all over the field.”
That offensive balance trickled down to Brody Listen (3g, 1a), who grabbed a hat trick for Harvard Westlake (10-5, 5-1). Owen Hudgins (1g, 1a) and Julien Roa (1g) rounded out the Wolverines offensive attack.
The Eagles (9-7, 3-2) trailed 4-1 after the first quarter, and 9-3 at the half. Tyler Bradbury (4g, 1a) had two goals in each half and Clayton Powers (1g, 1a) had a goal in the second quarter.
Outside of obvious great offensive play, Harvard Westlake created some problems for Oak Park defensively with four caused turnovers, two by Gideon Hyman .
Backup goalie Henry Mass filled in admirably for the injured Russell with nine saves, six in the second half. Russell is expected back for playoffs beginning Tuesday, but Mass left a great impression on his head coach Saturday.
“Henry did a great job,” Krum said. “Henry’s been really working hard all year. He played in a big game against Foothill, and it was a few-goal game. But he did a great job this week of preparing and getting ready for this game.”
The Wolverines outscored Oak Park 2-1 in the third quarter and 4-2 in the fourth to take the game 15-6.
With playoff seeds coming out Sunday, there was a buzz around this Top 10 matchup, including from Krum, whose local lacrosse resume takes him all the way back to his playing days at Mira Costa.
“This is a very exciting time for LA lacrosse,” Krum said. “The talent, the passion, and the energy is huge, and I think this will be a playoff for the history books.”