Heading into the playoffs. one of the more compelling first round games was #6 Los Al vs. #11 El Toro. The seedings suggested that the Griffins should be heavily favored; however, The Chargers were one of only four teams to best Los Al during the regular season. When the two teams played a few weeks ago, the Chargers blasted out to a 7-0 first period lead and tagged Los Al with a stinging 11-7 loss, snapping the Griffins’s seven game win streak.
The Griffins, well aware not to take their first round opponent too lightly, broke open a close game in the second half and downed a stubborn El Toro squad by a score
El Toro came out the gates fast and physical, and staked out an early 1-0 lead as they took advantage of three straight Los Al turnovers to start the game. Ozzie Hyde, scoring off an assist by Tyler Miller, tied the game at 1-1 on an EMO halfway through the first period. Miller played a key role in Los Al’s next goal, as he was flattened in a scrum in front of El Toro’s crease two minutes later, drawing a penalty and giving the Griffins another extra man advantage. Hyde fed Josh Duchon cutting down the middle who fired a shot past the El Toro goalie, giving Los Al a 2-1 lead at the 2:30 mark. Mitchell Dutton preserved the lead with a tremendous stop off his chest of a point blank shot on an El Toro wrap around play late in the quarter.
Early in the second quarter, El Toro evened things up on an unusual goal. Dutton made an initial save and the ball went straight up in the air 40 feet and came down on the crease, where the spinning sphere spinned right into the net. The tie was short lived though, because Sterling Hardy scored the first of three goals with an unassisted blistering shot eight yards out on the left of the El Toro crease. El Toro evened the game again with a man up goal at with about four minutes left in the half. However, with a minute left before the half, Case
Mais stole the ball at midfield and passed it to Duchon who zigzagged down the center of the offensive zone before finding Miller on the crease who deposited the ball in the back of the net giving Los Al a 4-3 half time advantage and a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
The game remained close throughout the third period, until Josh Jenks dodged from behind the net, taking several hits to his head and body before breaking free 10 yards out on the left wing and firing a bullet past the El Toro netminder half way up on the far side, giving Los Al a 5-3 lead. Los Al’s defense began to take over at that point. Mitchell Dutton made a couple of point blank to frustrate El Toro’s scoring opportunities, while the defense for Los Al stiffened, with great stick work by Mais, Morrow, Ryan Actkinson, Jacob Andreasson, Chris Hawk and Maxx Crowley. As he has been all season, Crowley was the quiet leader of the defense again for Los Al, playing a hard nosed game, and quarterbacking several clears to
swing momentum back in the Griffin’s favor.
Ozzie Hyde gave the Griffins more daylight at the 7:35 mark. After Los Al had possessed the ball for two full minutes, Hyde circled around half of the offensive zone
box, and quickly fired a screamer from 10 yards out on the left wing to make it 6-3. A minute later, Casey Mais picked up a ground ball at midfield going full speed and hit Hyde on the run. Hyde slammed on the brakes five yards out, spun around and sailed one past the El Toro goalie, giving Los Al a 7-3 lead.
Sterling Hardy and El Toro then traded two goals apiece over the next three minutes, including a highlight reel goal where Hardy busted in on goal starting at midfield and scoring on plain old flat out individual effort, making the score 9-5. El Toro added a goal with 23 seconds left in the game to make it 9-6 before LSM Casey Mais scooped a ground ball off the face-off, and raced downfield for the shot and unassisted goal with 7 seconds left for the final 10-6 score.
Los Al had 32 shots during the game and Mitchell Dutton recorded 12 saves. Mais led Los Al with six ground balls. Hyde and Morrow had three each.
With the win, Los Al will travel south to face another familiar opponent, #3 seed San Clemente. Los Al defeated San Clemente 7-6 earlier this season.