With the win the 21-1 Knights complete the 2014 season as the top ranked team in California and the No. 3 team in the West. Coach Jon Fox has the beginnings of a ring collection for his second hand, and a cast of returning players that will certainly have the Knights in the hunt to add to that collection in 2015.
Saturday’s game was just another day in the paradise that is Southern California lacrosse. Played on the turf field of picturesque and historic Huntington Beach High School, Surf City became Lacrosse City for at least one day. For those fans that could not be there to enjoy the game and the weather in person, Adam Guy and Lane Jaffe were doing the play by play on the MaxLaxOC.com live-stream broadcast of the game.
The sixth-seeded underdog Sea Kings showed they were not intimidated by Foothhill’s reputation and lofty status by jumping out to a 3-2 first quarter lead on goals by Dylan Meyer (assist Stanton Gilbertson), Aidan Westley (assist Rizal Smith), and Peter Henkhaus. Warren Case and Nate Marano scored for the Knights.
As the second quarter unfolded, the contrasting styles between the two teams became more apparent. PV tried to settle into long-possession offensive sets, but were frustrated by the ball-hawking Foothill push-out defense that continuously disrupted their offensive rhythms and forced turnovers. Showing off the kind of leadership that earned him the 2014 Bob Scott award, Owenn Geis was the first Knight to take advantage of a turnover when he picked up a defensive groundball, went coast-to-coast through the Sea Kings defense and scored to tie the game early in the second quarter. Less than two minutes later Nate Marano crashed through a double team fullback-style, and got his hands free for high to high finish to make it 4-3, and Foothill was on a run that would put the game away.
On PV’s next possession, Matt Marano picked off a pass and went on his own coast-to-coast tour but his shot missed the net. Fortunately Kevin Kodzis was at X for backup, and he found a cutting Nate Marano. Marano competed his first hat trick of the day and the Knights had a 5-3 lead with 6:47 left in the half. Nate Marano then kept it going when he picked up a groundball on the ensuing faceoff, wrapped around the cage and finished high to low this time. Once again Austin Babb won the ensuing faceoff and tic tac toe passing from Kodzis to Case to Nick Matzek gave Foothill their third goal in less than a minute for 7-3 lead. PV interrupted the run with an unassisted goal to make it 7-4 with five minutes left in the half. The half ended 9-4 after the Case-to-Matzek connection worked again and Case scored unassisted.
Down but not out, Palos Verdes opened the second half with Meyer’s second goal of the game (assist Steve Delcarson) to close the gap to 9-5. Goalie David McCan ignited the fast break goal when he intercepted a Foothill pass and and hit Delcarson on the outlet. Once again Babb got his teammates a possession with a faceoff win, and once again Nate Marano powered through a double team, this time using a swim move, to make it 10-5. Matzek then completed his hat trick when a great look from Kodzis found him all alone on the crease for a goal that was too easy to give the Knights an 11-5 lead. Foothill goals from Matt Harris and Matzek (assist Nate Marano), and PV goals from Gilbertson (assist Smith) and Henkhaus closed the quarter at 13-7. Meyers completed his hat trick at 8:18 to give the Sea Kings a glimmer of hope at 8:18, but once again Foothill responded with Babb winning a faceoff and Marano beating a double team to squash any thought of a comeback. Case scored Foothill’s last goal of the season, and Mikey Booth and Gilbertson scored for PV to complete the scoring at 15-10.