Former OC high school stars getting it done at Whittier

Four Orange County products are making names for themselves with the Whittier College Poets this season.

Former San Clemente High School stars Jonathon Kassity and Aaron Self have been have been extremely impressive during the freshman campaigns and give head coach Brian Kelly much to look forward to for the next three years. Kassity has appeared in 10 games this season and has averaged nearly two points per game with 12 goals and 6 assists. Self has appeared in 12 games, and has won 58% of his faceoffs while scoring 6 goals with 1 assist.

Former Newport Harbor High School star Zack Gagnon came to Whittier by way of the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex. Gagnon has 10 goals, 7 assists, and 10 ground balls while appearing in 12 games for the Poets. Junior goalie Nathan Kleponis, winner of many County championships while at Foothill High School, has appeared in two games this season.

Self and Kassity both played big parts in Whittier’s win over Dominican this weekend as reported below by Lance Franey of the Whittier College Athletic News.

Whittier College Athletic News
April 20, 2013

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College men’s lacrosse team took part in their third straight game on the road Friday evening against Dominican who moved from an NAIA program to Div. II this season and came away with a 9-8 victory. The Poets now move their head to head record against Dominican (CA) to 2-0 after they held on for a 10-9 victory during their 2012 campaign.

The Purple & Gold who were coming off of a 12-3 loss to Otterbein last Friday snapped their two game losing skid spoiling Dominican’s senior day. Whittier jumped out in front quickly and held a 7-1 advantage at the half before the Penguins mounted a comeback in the comeback outscoring the Poets 4-2 before falling 9-8. The win snaps the Penguins five game winning streak despite their three goal effort in the final minute of play.

It was all Purple & Gold Friday evening from the opening whistle as they erupted for nine goals with five straight coming in the first five minutes of action from Jonathan Kassity (2), Hunter Hall, and Aaron Self before the Penguins snapped the run at the 2:04 mark with an unassisted goal from Kevin Powers. After Kassity’s third goal of the contest closed out the first quarter, Whittier added the first in the second from Peter Iani that extended the Poet lead to 7-1 before Dominican responded with three unanswered to pull within three at 7-4.

Powers answered right out of the gate in the third with a goal to pull the Penguins within two but WC regrouped and found the back of the net twice with one coming off of a turnover from Foster Cunningham and Kassity to extend their lead back to four. The Penguin’s defense didn’t allow a goal over the final 22:45 of the game, yet its offense couldn’t catch up with the Poets. They had an opportunity midway through the fourth from Jake Fritz who had a point blank shot on goal but senior goalie Jon Cairone denied him keeping the goal advantage at three.

Cody Bernstein tallied a goal with 51.8 seconds remaining in the game then scored again with 19.5 seconds to go. Yet that goal was waved off because of a player entering the crease. Still, the Penguins had a man-up situation and Evangelho made it count. But this would all the offense they could muster late as their run would fall short with 12 seconds to play when freshman Scott Pescheret won the ensuing faceoff helping Whittier come away with their fifth victory of the season.

Between the posts, Cairone finished with a game high 16 saves against 24 shots. Despite being outshot 31-21, Whittier still held the advantage on clears 17-19, face offs won 15-22, and man up situations 1-2. Kassity led the offensive unit with four goals, while Maxwell Jones finished with two assists. Whittier remains on the road for their final road contest when they take on Notre Dame de Namur tomorrow, Sunday, April 21 beginning at 12:00pm.