An 8-0 run from the end of the second quarter deep into the third gave first-ranked Palos Verdes more than enough juice to hand No. 2 Oaks Christian its first loss of the season Friday night, an 11-7 decision in Westlake Village.
The Lions (9-1, 3-0) got off to a solid start on all sides of the ball and forged a 4-0 lead with 1:26 left in the first half behind Cade Rogers (2g, 1a) and Ronny Redell (2g). This did not bode well for the Sea Kings (11-1, 3-0), or head coach Jimmy Borell.
“We just didn’t make every opportunity count in the first half, obviously,” Borell said. “Cole Clinton started clicking at the faceoff ‘X’, obviously jump-starting everything. It’s a game of runs, and we were able to put some in the back of the net and kind of run away with it a little bit.”
Clinton won 17 of 22 face-offs in the game, and Palos Verdes eventually began to capitalize. After Oaks made it 4-0 with 1:24 left in the first half, the Sea Kings produced a quick burst in the final minute that changed everything. Jake Jellison (3g) and Luc Charbonnier (4g, 1a) scored 13 seconds apart to cut the Lions lead to 4-2 at the break.
Just like that, the momentum had shifted.
“The more defense you have to play, the more chances they’re going to get,” Lions coach Jeremy Sieverts said. “A great faceoff guy [in Clinton], you know that kind of wends itself into the run [Palos Verdes] went on. But I think being able to compete, you get some stops early, you get some goals early.”
After a quiet three minutes to begin the third quarter, the Sea Kings went on their run, scoring six more unanswered goals. The Lions’ Presley Regier (1g) finally broke the streak, bringing Oaks back to within three at 8-5 with a minute left in the quarter. Charbonnier, Jellison, and Brad Sharp (4a) kept the ball moving and in the Lions net.
At the other end, senior goalie Kyle McCann was the star for Palos Verdes with 17 saves, eight of which came in the third quarter.
“He’s been really bailing us out this year,” Borell said. “We’ve got some new defensive guys playing. It’s nice when you make mistakes (on defense), Kyle is there to bail us out. Trust me, it isn’t something we take for granted. He was a big reason why we were so successful on the defensive end.”
Mike Spaeth (2g, 1a) brought the Lions back to within two three minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Sea Kings scored three more in the next three minutes to all but put it away.
Oaks Christian has had a phenomenal 2019 campaign, climbing from No. 7 in the preseason coaches poll to No. 2 last week after wins over four Top 10 teams. While Friday was the Lions’ first defeat, the vibe was nothing but positive from Sieverts after his team stood toe-to-toe with Palos Verdes.
“We talked about how the result wasn’t critical and we should enjoy it some, and we did,” Sieverts said. “We worked hard, and not to say we didn’t care about what the result was, but I think it validated for us a little bit of just what we’re capable of, and our mindset is to always get better.”
To round out the Sea Kings offense, Birk Swan (2g, 1a), Landon Smith (1g, 1a), and Michael Nagy (1a) contributed tallies in the scorebook. Junior Brandon Clark, a regular starter this year after being a rotational player last season, led PV defensively with two caused turnovers and two ground balls.
The Lions will get a chance to rebound when they head down the street to face Marmonte League neighbor No. 6 Westlake on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Sea Kings are on spring break and will resume action April 8 against Orange County power Foothill in Tustin.