These guys are good!. In a game that lived up to the hype, No. 2 Corona del Mar edged No. 3 St. Margaret’s 7-5 Wednesday night. The game, which may have been the best one played in the OC this year, was a see-saw affair from beginning to end. The outcome was still in doubt when Ben Palitz plunked the ball into an empty net with 31 seconds left in the game to give the the Sea Kings a 7-5 lead.
Played in front of a full set of bleachers occupied by lacrosse fans from throughout the County, the game had not only local interest , but also regional implications. Corona del Mar is ranked No. 5 and St. Margaret’s No. 10 in the Under Armour/IL Regional Experts Poll.
The tone for the game was set early with neither team able to score until Nick Shanks (1g) scored for the Tartans at about the 7 minute mark of the first period, putting the Sea Kings in an unfamiliar place, behind in the score. Sherwin Gersten (3g) answered about five minutes later with the first of his three goals to send the Tartans and Sea Kings into the second period tied at one apiece.
Defense on both ends of the field continued to prevail in the second quarter. CdM controlled time of possession but the St. Margaret’s team defense was not relinquishing much time or space to the CdM shooters. Max Kline (1g) with an assist from Stephen Von der (1g, 1a) scored the only goal of the quarter to send the Sea Kings into halftime with a 2-1 lead.
Von der Ahe and Gersten built the CdM lead to 4-1 in the third quarter. With CdM continuing to control time of possession, it was beginning to feel that the Sea Kings might start to pull away. The Tartans had different thoughts though. Sam Harnisch (1g) scored in the last minute of the quarter to cut the difference to two points. Then unanswered goals by Paddy Fallon (assisted by Fernando Delgado), Suh (1g, 1a) on a deft look-one-way shoot-the-other rip from 10 yards out, and Kevin Cox (1g) in the first four minutes of Q4 gave the Tartans the lead and the momentum with eight minutes to play.
The SMES defense continued to stifle the Sea Kings until Gersten broke through with his third goal at about the four minute mark to tie the game. Nino Chavez (1g) put the Sea Kings back in the lead about a minute later with an assist from Jordan Greenhall (2a). CdM’s possession game became their best defender after the Chavez goal, and Palitz iced the game with his empty net goal to reach the final score of 7-5.
The faceoff battle between Denver-bound Ryan Harnisch and Brown-bound Jason Simaan also lived up to expectations, with each winning about half of the faceoffs. Greenlee, Harnisch’s future teammate Denver, was a huge factor playing the wing on the faceoffs.
Next up: CdM (14-0) travels to Harvard-Westlake on April 28. The Tartans (15-3) close out their regular season when the host La Costa Canyon (7-7) on Saturday.