It’s still March, but hard-fought battles for playoff positioning already are under way. Friday, No. 16 El Segundo and No. 14 West Ranch battled tooth and nail until late in the second overtime before Eagles’ senior Cory Lund scored to give Gundo a 12-11 victory.
That head-to-head edge could be important a month from now, not just in securing a better seed, but perhaps even in securing an at-large berth in the first place.
“These nonleague games between similarly ranked teams are important to play so that seeding isn’t left to the proverbial ‘smoke-filled room’ at the end of the season,” El Segundo coach Brooks Roscoe said via email Friday night.
Currently, El Segundo (6-2, 1-1) sits behind Santa Monica — which improved to 10-0 with a win at Downey on Friday — in the Ocean League race. Should the Eagles remain there at season’s end, they will need an at-large bid to the 16-team playoff tournament. Nonleague wins over playoff contenders like West Ranch would factor into the discussion in the “proverbial ‘smoke-filled room.’ ”
West Ranch (4-5), which competes as an independent, has no league affiliation to lean on for a playoff spot. Thus the Wildcats need to win these type of head-to-head contests against quality opponents to bolster their case come seeding time.
With all of that at stake, even a month before playoff seeding takes place, it was no surprise to see a tight game between two evenly matched teams that both felt they needed the victory. The score was tied 6-6 at halftime, 8-8 after three quarters and 11-11 at the end of both regulation and the first overtime period.
El Segundo led 11-10 inside the final minute, but West Ranch senior middie Bryce Hildebrand found senior attack Jacob Gandara for the tying goal with less than 20 seconds remaining to send it to overtime.
Late in the second overtime, Lund finally put one past West Ranch goalie Shane Quesada — who had 16 saves in the game, according to the El Segundo scorebook — for the game-winner.
Lukas Roscoe led the Eagles with five goals and two assists, while Lund finished with three goals and two assists. Daniel Ball (1g, 2a), Isaiah Lynch (1g, 1a), Rory Cochrane (1g) and Devin Bonney (2a) produced the rest of the El Segundo scoring.
“West Ranch had a sophisticated defense that was a challenge to respond to,” coach Roscoe said. “They were certainly keying on stopping Cory Lund, and I’m proud of how the rest of our offense adapted.”
Bonney did more than his part to keep possession in the Eagles’ offensive end, winning 15 of 26 face-offs — including 5 of 6 in the fourth quarter and overtimes — and collecting 11 ground balls. Goalie Alex Nolan recorded 11 saves.
Now El Segundo must prepare for a visit from No. 18 Palisades on Monday — another matchup against a similarly ranked team with its eyes on postseason seeding.
Information provided by El Segundo Lacrosse and culled from @WRHSLacrosse on Twitter.