JSerra Earns Trip to Finals

JSerra_Thumb.jpgShortly after Foothill secured one spot in the South Division finals by winning their rematch with San Clemente, JSerra hung on to beat CdM 9-8 in their rematch and claim the second finalists’ position.  The finals will be yet another rematch, one that No.1 Foothill and No. 3 JSerra fans have been hoping for since Foothill eked out a 13-12 victory over the Lions on April 10.  The Lions built up what looked to be a commanding 7-3 lead against after three quarters before nearly self destructing with penalties, and clinging on at the end as a determined CdM team would not go away.  It was the sixth time in the last  9 outings that JSerra has been involved in a one goal game.  Once again Mitch Kingsley was the man of the hour for the Lions.  Kingsley scored five goals against a team that has been letting in less than four goals per game.  Much as Austin Babb controlled face-offs in the first semi-final game, Jason Simaan controlled them in this game, and true to form Simaan won the opening face-off to give his team the first possession of the game.  The Sea Kings immediately went in to a long possession offense, spinning the ball around the perimeter unable to find a shot until the game was almost two minutes old.  CdM picked up the rebound, went back into their offense, and JSerra did not get the ball until about the 8:30 mark.

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Once JSerra gained possession, the tempo picked up to one more to JSerra’s liking as the ball moved up and down the field with neither team able to settle into an offensive rhythm.  Kingsley scored the first goal of the game when he worked his way to scoring position from X, got his hands free, and drilled a perfectly placed shot into the far side corner.  Then at 2:50, Brendan Lynch, the human clearing machine, got stripped by a nasty Brett Greenlee check at midfield.  Lynch alertly picked up his stick and the ball,  and found Gage Manning wide open in front of the cage for the easy goal to put JSerra up 2-0.  Kingsley scored his second of the night, when again working from X, crossed GLE to Hoyt Crance’s right, and beat Crance with another nicely placed shot, this time pulling a low to low worm burner out of his toolbox.

The Sea Kings were down 3-0 and in a position that that they are not accustomed to, playing catch up.  Sherwin Gersten sent a message at the eight minute mark of the second quarter that unaccustomed to playing catch up and not being able to play catch up are two different things.  He put the Sea Kings on the board at 3-1 with an assist from Stephen Von Der Ahe.  Kingsley then sent back a message back that if the Sea Kings wanted to catch up they were going to have to find an answer for Mr. Kingsley first.  He got free on a terrific James Yanes pick and scored, this time choosing to go high to high to complete a hat trick.  Lynch then dished off to Jake Schleppy on a cross field skip pass, Schleppy beat his defender with a nice dodge and put the Lions up 5-1 with 4:22 left in the half.  

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Down by four goals and time running out in the half, CdM started to get more aggressive on offense, a tactic that paid off when Gersten closed the gap to three before halftime.

The second half began with the dark side of JSerra’s aggressiveness, penalties, starting to surface.  Lynch went off for a 1 minute cross check at 10:39 of the third quarter, and Von Der Ahe seized the opportunity, bringing the high to high heat over Jake Hennigman’s shoulder to make it a two goal game.  JSerra pushed it back to a four goal lead entering the fourth quarter when Schleppy found twine on a high to low bounce shot, and Yanes hit Manning cutting backside for Manning’s second goal of the night.

Seemingly in control with 12 minutes to go in the game,  JSerra penalties continued to interrupt their offensive flow and give CdM opportunities.   And when opportunity knocks, a well coached team like CdM opens the door, which set the stage fro a very exciting 12 minutes.

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Von Der Ahe scored his second goal,  an easy man up dunk assisted by Ben Palitz 30 seconds into the final frame.  A minute later Von Der Ahe beat Hennigman again, but this time he hit the pipe.  Lynch picked up the long rebound, hit Kingsley in transition, and Kingsley had his fourth goal of the game; 8-4 JSerra. Jay Damon responded almost immediately for the Sea Kings.  Damon circled the cage as his teammates cleared out in front, and Damon finished high to high.  8-5 JSerra, 8 minutes to go.

Nino Chavez picked up a rebound two minutes later with another Lion sitting out a penalty to make it 8-6 with  six minutes remaining.  The Lions then got tagged with an interference on the ensuing face-off and a holding call at 3:35.  JSerra successfully killed off the penalties but a team that likes to attack was back on its heels, and CdM was not going away.  Kingsley tried to put the game on ice when he scored his fifth of the night, this time breaking free on a thunderous Matt Karzak pick.  9-6, JSerra lead, 2:30 remaining in the game.  Game over, right? Nope.

Simaan won the ensuing face-off.  Gersten scored. 9-7 with less than two minutes to play.  Simaan won another face-off (notice a pattern developing here).  Damon scored his second of the night, when he beats a double team and forced the ball into the cage with 0:52 remaining with the determination of a senior who does not want his high school lacrosse career to end prematurely.   Down by one with 52 seconds remaining, Simaan won yet another face-off, and CdM called a timeout with 35 seconds remaining to setup a final play.   JSerra got the ball back on a goalie interference with 14 seconds to play.  Game over, right?  Not quite. Hennigman misfired on the clearing pass, it go intercepted, forcing him to make one more save before Lynch picked up the rebound and fired the ball down field as time ran out and his teammates swarmed the field in celebration of the program’s first trip ever to the South Division finals.