Los Alamitos took home the 6th consecutive Southern Section, Southern Division Championship title on Wednesday with a 14-5 victory over Beckman at Aliso Niguel high school. The Lady Griffins will try to make it six Southern Section championships in a row too when the play the winner of the Oak Park Game at Huntington Beach High School on Saturday.
A fan-filled Wolverine Stadium geared up for an exciting game as the two top Orange County teams prepared to face off. Although the Griffins have been an amazing 109-13 during their 6-year run, nearly half those losses came this year. Coupled with a 15-13 loss against Beckman earlier in the season, many thought Los Al may be vulnerable this year. The Griffins disagreed and came to play with a vengeance. The Beckman Patriots looked to upset from their underdog position. Both teams were pumped and riding high from recent winning streaks.
From previous games, lacrosse enthusiasts across the county anticipated high caliber athleticism from Los Alamitos and Beckman. Both teams boast strong rosters. Their team leaders squared off Wednesday night for match-ups made in heaven.
Would Patriots Michaela Kyte and Lauren Palmquist manage to top Grace Schmidt-Beck‘s draw-taking prowess? Could Griffin Caitlin Derry possibly score on unshakeable goalie Claire Duchene? Would Dom Loney be able to defend Beckman player Savannah Krause‘s signature roll dodge?
After Beckman won the first draw, Krause’s spin move proved its worth on the opening play of the game. Low, just above the right goal line extended, the Patriot baited her defender up-field, made contact, spun off to square up to goal, and scored the first Beckman point. Soon after, Shea O’Donnell rolled the crease to score off another successful Beckman draw control.
Beckman was in good shape for the majority of the first half. Their two-goal lead stood up for most of the first half as Beckman controlled possession but could not increase their score. Missed shots and opportunities by Los Alamitos’s offense, or a patient, long-possessing Beckman offense, or solid defense on both sides were all factoring into the low scoring game. The few times that Beckman lost the ball early in the game, Los Al would give it back quickly with messy offensive possessions.
Hard work and aggressive riding got Los Alamitos their first goal. After an unsuccessful settled offensive push, the Griffins lost the ball, but re-defended and won it back. Sophomore Sophie Schade out-hustled Beckman for a ground ball and scored the first Los Al goal of the game. There was no stopping the Griffins after that; a single goal gave them enough momentum to drive the team through the rest of the game.
The Patriots could do nothing but attempt to hold their own against a Los Alamitos offensive shooting spree consisting of unanswered goals by Haley Fessenden, Grace Schmidt-beck, and Caitlin Derry. In well under five minutes (one goal taking just 15 seconds) the Griffins gained a three-goal lead 5-2 by halftime.
Nevertheless, Beckman generally had a good share of time with the ball in their sticks. Well-paced possession was the theme of their offense. Playing against a solid defense like Los Al’s, Beckman knew that they had to take care of the ball when they had it. Los Alamitos goalie Ane Marie Horton, was as impressive between the pipes as her offense was on the other end of the field, saving plenty of goals.
Los Alamitos played defense all over the field. Clearing the ball out of their defensive side was hard. But Beckman attempting to do the same on their end proved near impossible. Whenever the Los Alamitos offense lost the ball, they often won it back with tenacious re-defending. Goalie Claire Duchene usually found herself back in goal with an incomplete defense when a Beckman clear went awry. For Los Al, good offense meant good defense.
Griffin Jenny Lange took on some leadership for Los Al in the second half, along with other scorers Fessenden and Schade. The Los Alamitos lead was well developed by the time Savannah Krause fed an assist to Shea O’Donnell for a score of 9-3. Los Al dominated at draw control, giving them valuable possessions and making it difficult for Beckman to stage a comeback. Draw-taker Schmidt-beck placed her draws almost perfectly into teammate Caitlin Derry‘s stick. Beckman draw specialists like Luna Tsujimoto and O’Donnell seemed unable to touch the ball.
With just over ten minutes left in the half, Los Alamitos had racked up 12 goals to Beckman’s 3. The Beckman stands, hungry for some goals, had their chance to rile up when Beckman made a last rally. Krause scored to make it 12-4, and drew a foul that gave Beckman a mid-line free position start after the goal. Lauren Palmquist capitalized off the freebie and scored another Beckman goal off a 50-yard dash n’ dodge. That made the score 12-5, but there would not be enough time to catch up. Before the Patriots could even blink, the game was over at 14-5.
After a well-fought battle and a successful season despite challenging team obstacles, Beckman Head Coach Monica Cullinan expressed deep pride in her team. “We stuck with our game plan,” Cullinan said, “and played solid lacrosse to try to maintain possession.” As for the future of Beckman girls’ lacrosse, Cullinan feels that it is “promising.”
In the future for Los Alamitos girls’ lacrosse lies another round of playoff games for the Southern Section. Los Alamitos Head Coach Emily Mukai plans to “take it one play at a time, and have the girls enjoy the time they have on the field.”
Congratulations, Los Alamitos Girls’ Lacrosse!