What a season it has been for Orange County lacrosse fans. With the depth of talent now playing in the area and local powerhouses venturing out beyond the orange curtain more frequently, this season has been loaded with buzz-generating games that have all lived up to the hype. Thursday night’s duel between best in the west JSerra and No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Foothill was no exception.
The first half and then some belonged to Foothill. Austin Babb’s goal with 9:47 left in the third quarter gave Foothill a seemingly insurmountable 11-4 lead. With Babb winning 22 out of 25 face-offs on the night, and Babb’s considerably talented teammates playing with confidence and poise, it did not seem like JSerra would get enough possessions to climb out of the hole. Most teams would have packed it in and started to get ready for the rematch.
The JSerra Lions are not most teams though. Recognizing the challenge in front of them, the Lions picked up the intensity and started chipping away at the lead. They started to win the ground ball battles, ride relentlessly, and fire away with shots. Any time a shot was off target but there was always a teammate backing up at X to save the possession.
Two goals by Jake Schleppy and a goal apiece from Mitch Kingsley, James Yanes, Logan Olmsted, Tucker Guyot, and Gage Manning closed the gap to one at 12-11. Guyot’s long pole rip and Yanes’ finish were both Top 10 plays of the Week Candidates.
Then Nate Marano put the game on ice when he scored his own Top 10 candidate, running the JSerra defense ragged to kill some time off the clock before finishing with 0:43 left to make it 13-11. The never give up Lions fought to the bitter end, and Manning scored his second of the night, finishing from the crease :01 on the clock.
Kevin Kodzis led the Foothill offense with 4 goals. As usual Warren Case was stirring things up with 2 goals and 3 assists. Babb added two goals to go with his big night at the faceoff X. The Marano twins picked up four goals, 3 for Nate and 1 for Matt. Nick Matzek also had a goal. Ryan Falbo dished out 2 assists.
Kingsley (2 goals, 2 assists), Schleppy (2 goals), Guyot (2 goals), Manning (2 goals), Brenden Lynch (2 goals), Yanes (1 goal, 2 assists), Olmsted (1 goal), Yuta Murata (1 assist), and Emerson Roth (1 assist) accounted for the JSerra scoring.
Stars of the Game
1. Austin Babb. 22 faceoff wins and 2 goals in a game that was decided by 1 goal. Need I say more?.
2. Kevin Kodzis. The JSerra defense could not find an answer for the quick feet of the sophomore, and he burned for them for 4 goals.
3. Mitch Kingsley. Kingsley is the obvious leader of this team. The 2 goals and 2 assists were important but it his intangible competitive determination that sets him apart.