Fourth-ranked Oaks Christian earned a share of the Marmonte League championship Friday and might have rediscovered its early season mojo in the process, defeating visiting No. 5 Westlake 11-5.
The Lions (14-3, 7-1) opened the season with nine consecutive victories but had gone only 4-3 in their next seven games, including a 15-9 loss to Westlake that put the Warriors (11-5, 7-1) in the driver’s seat for the Marmonte title.
With playoff seeds coming Sunday, Oaks Christian was determined both to claim a share of the league title and make an impression on the seeding committee.
“This has big playoff implications and we knew that and talked about that ahead of time,” Lions coach Jeremy Sieverts said. “Hopefully we showed a good version of ourselves and we’ll be pleased with what the result is on Sunday when the seedings come out.”
The win might just be enough for coaches to vote the Lions ahead of Harvard Westlake (9-5), a team Oaks Christian beat early in the season. The Wolverines visit Oak Park on Saturday in their final regular season game.
Like the first time the teams met, Westlake had a possession edge, with Jacob Martin winning 15 of 20 face-off attempts. Unlike last time, though, the possessions did not translate into much scoring. The Lions defense played lights out early, allowing only one goal in the first half. A strong performance in goal from Mikey Thomson, who finished with 10 saves, anchored the defensive effort.
“We certainly changed some things (on defense) from the last time we saw [Westlake],” Sieverts said. “The scheming obviously helps, but the last time we played them, I didn’t recognize our team, we did some uncharacteristic things. Yeah we changed some things with the scheme, but I thought our guys just played better.”
That includes offensive contributions up and down the roster, and the results at both ends bode well for the Lions in the playoffs.
Cade Rogers (4g, 1a) and Mike Spaeth (2g, 3a) led the Oaks offense, but it was Ronny Redell (2g, 1a) that got things started in the first quarter. Carson Campbell (1g, 1a) scored a minute later for a 2-0 lead. Westlake got one back when Carson Kuhl (1a) fed CJ Woodall (3g), but the Lions had a 2-1 lead after the first quarter.
Oaks Christian dominated the second quarter, outscoring Westlake 3-0 to take a 5-1 lead at the half. Rogers had two goals on assists from Spaeth and Presley Reiger (2g, 1a).
“Our other guys make it easy for [Rogers and Spaeth], so it was nice for some of our guys to be rewarded with some big-time goals,” Sieverts said.
Spaeth brought the Lions lead to 6-1 early in the third quarter, but the Warriors went on a 3-0 run off goals from Tyler Enderle (1g), Matt Fairweather (1g), and Woodall to make it interesting.
The Lions, though, responded with a 5-0 run of their own to take the 11-5 win. Reiger scored two goals in the fourth quarter.
“Presley over the years has been hanging out at that back pipe for a long time, so it’s nice for him to get some meaningful ones,” Sieverts said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Both Westlake and Oaks Christian have now concluded good 2019 regular season campaigns and will await the results of the selection committee for playoff seeding on Sunday, with the first round of the playoffs taking place on Tuesday.