SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO- Kevin Groeninger (4G, 3A) accounted for nearly half his team’s points to help No. 3 St. Margaret’s outgun No. 5 Santa Margarita 15-11 on Thursday. Not only are the Tartans moving onto the semifinals, but they extended their historical dominance over the Eagles. The Tartans are undefeated against their former Trinity League rival since the two began competing in 2009.
A large and raucous Santa Margarita contingent made the trip to San Juan Capistrano in hopes cheering their Eagles on to the semi-finals for the second year in a row. However, Groeninger and the Tartans had other ideas. A back-and-forth first quarter from both teams resulted in a tight 4-3 lead by the Tartans after the frame. Three more goals from St. Margarets and two from the Eagles gave the Tartans a 7-5 lead at the half.
After two early third quarter goals by St. Margarets extended their lead to 9-5, Santa Margarita came rolling back. The Eagles knotted the game at 10-10 by the end of the third quarter. In what looked to be a remaking of this seasons 4OT thriller between the two teams, the Tartans had other plans as they hit the Eagles defense hard early in the fourth to pull away to a 15-11 win.
In what looked to be a remaking of this seasons 4OT thriller between the two teams, the Tartans had other plans as they hit the Eagles defense hard early in the fourth to pull away to a 15-11 win.
Groeninger was the leading scorer but he had plenty of help. Marcus Knight contributed a hat trick (3G). Garrett Kuntz (2G), Michael Chew (1G, 1A), Conrad Hampson (1G) and Trevor Peay (1G) stood out for the Tartans as well. While the team committed 10 turnovers, they caused three of them defensively.
The tightest battle of the day was at the dot between Santa Margarita’s Chase Lynch and St. Margarets Stuart Pollard, with Lynch holding a slight 15-14 advantage.
The Eagles offensively were led by Quentin Buchman’s hat trick (3G, 1A), and saw contributions from Tyler Wrightson (3G), Jack Fisher (2G, 1A), Michael Walsh (2G) and Jack Allender (1G, 1A). Chad Cobb had seven saves in net and the defense caused four total turnovers.
Santa Margarita head coach Adam Guy was very positive about his team’s performance and of his seniors.
“Great game, congratulations to [St. Margarets],” Guy said. “Super proud of our seniors.”
St. Margarets will play No. 1 Corona Del Mar in the semifinals on Saturday. The Tartans lost at home to the Sea Kings 12-4 on April 19, and will try to avenge last season’s loss in the County championship game.