Inside Lacrosse just recently moved JSerra up into the No. 9 spot in their Western Region rankings while Torrey Pines sat pretty at No. 2. The game between the two top 10 teams lived up to all the hype.
So far this season the Lions have beaten San Diego and L.A.’s best teams (Bishops, Coronado, Palos Verdes, and Harvard-Westlake) and all eyes were watching to see how JSerra would handle their biggest out-of-county test yet. Not only did they pass, but provided the fans in attendance a rare treat of uber-talented, down-to-the wire lacrosse.
JSerra midfielder Jake Schleppy has been out most of this year with a broken hand. It didn’t take him any time to get back into the swing of things when he gave JSerra a two-goal advantage half way through the first quarter. Aggressive defense from Kennedy Solomon and clutch saves from Jake Henigman off rebuttal attempts from Falcons kept the momentum in the Lions favor and forced Torrey Pines to go into temporary panic mode. For the majority of the first quarter it seemed that Torrey didn’t expect the contest that was in front of them. Eli Suhadolnik finally got Torrey Pines on the board with one minute left to go in the first.
Suhadolnik’s goal was enough to help settle the Falcon’s offense down into a rhythm that would produce three goals in a row (Spencer Small and Marc Lefferdink (3G) and put JSerra in a tough position down 4-2 by the middle of the second quarter. Both teams were generating quality shots off face paced offense but TP goalie Bryce Cady was locked in and absorbed shot after shot. Logan Olmsted finally broke a 16-minute scoring drought scoring of a Brenden Lynch pass with 1:49 left in the second quarter to end the half trailing 4-3.
Coach Kyle Harrison must have said something to inspire his boys at half time because upon return to the field JSerra was all over ground balls and pushed transition at every opportunity. Tucker Guyot started a few of his own slow breaks off ground balls in the defensive end that gave the opportunity for Mitch Kingsley to tie the game at 4-4 off an unassisted goal and go up by one when James Yanes assisted Emerson Roth. The score would stay 5-4 heading into the fourth quarter.
Disaster seemed imminent when a momentum-killing one minute unreleasable penalty was called on Yuta Murata for an illegal stick as part of routine quarterly stick checks. JSerra sunk in and killed the entire penalty without any damage to their lead. Another penalty then gave Torrey Pines another chance to even the score but an errant pass found it’s way to the corner of the JSerra offensive end where Schleppy displayed incredible athleticism and field awareness side-stepping his defensemen, saving the ball heading out of bounds, and behind the back passing all in one movement to Kingsley who then found Yanes unguarded five yards above GLE to give the Lions a 6-4 lead.
Two goals in two minutes by the Falcon’s Suhadolnik and Lefferdink tied the game at 6-6 with five minutes left in the game. Closely missed shots, saves from Henigman aided the survival of the Lions until Solomon forced a Torrey Pines attackman out of bounds. A successful clear and timeout gave the Lion’s 1:33 to score. Just 32 seconds into their possession Yanes drove to the island and took the game winning shot around his defensmen. The game was not over as Torrey Pines then had four different attempts at the goal in the final minute and Henigman saving a shot and two subsequent back-to-back garbage ground ball shots point blank to seal the win for the Lions, 7-6.
Both teams deserve to be proud of the way they played. The competitiveness of the two teams combined with minimal unforced turnovers, lead changes, and penalty drama made this one of the best high school games anyone will see this year. The win is not only huge for JSerra as a program but all of Orange County lacrosse.
Coach Harrison on what this meant for his team: “I’m extremely proud of the boys. After coming off a grinding game yesterday versus Servite and playing the way they did is really something special.”
Stars of the Game:
1. James Yanes, JSerra, attack: Yanes was the point leader with three (2G, 1A) and put the team on his back and scored the game winner. He was a commanding presence all game and created his own shots and shots for others all game.
2. Jake Henigman, JSerra, goalie: The saves by Henigman were more than just a stat. In an extremely emotional game the JSerra goalie kept his head and made clutch save after clutch save including a game ending three save volley in the last 20 seconds.
3. Scott Barger, JSerra, defense: The Towson LSM commit changed the game in the midfield, pestering both Suhuldonik and Syracuse-bound Spencer Small all game. At the beginning of the game, Small was going on him and by the end of the game when each possession counted it, pressure from Barger saw Small running towards the sidelines and virtually ineffective.
–MaxLaxOC Staff Report