With half the country trapped in the “Polar Vortex” and facing record low temperatures with record high levels of snow, it was nice being being trapped in the “Tropical Vortex” on the sidelines in shorts and a T-shirt. The Tropical Vortex couldn’t stop five of six Orange County teams securing playoff seedings from a field of 40 Elite division teams from all over the country. Orange County faced the worst seedings for itself as possible with all five teams playing each other in the first and second rounds. Both surviving Orange County teams would advance to the ADRLN and STX finals but come up just short of bringing the championship home, with FCA HS Silver losing to ADVNC (NorCal select) 9-6 and Kings Elite Gold losing to Seattle Starz 2015 7-0.
Mike Ansel’s Rip City squad faced Adam Guy’s OC Kings Purple and Tom DeMaio’s 3d Select faced John Fox’s OC Kings Gold in the first rounds of the ADRLN Elite division and STX Elite Division respectively. Glen Miles’ FCA HS Silver was the only team to survive the inevitable Orange County first-round elimination death trap but would have to face the winner of Rip City/Kings Purple in the next round.
OC Kings Elite Purple vs Rip City (ADRLN Elite first round playoff)
The intensity and pace of the game was a testament to just how competitive Orange County lacrosse will be this year. Both teams had representatives from all over the county and even some high school teammates on opposing teams.
Kings Purple was all over Rip City in the first half. They came out quick and held possession for most of the half turning 70 percent possession into a 4-1 lead at the half. Rip City could have been put away early in the second half if it weren’t for two early stops by goalie Jackson Browner (Los Alamitos High School). On the ensuing possessions, Sage Devault (Tesoro High School) and Austin Streeter (San Clemente High School) scored back to back goals edging Rip City back into the game 4-3. After strong defensive stands from both teams Colin Zines (San Clemente) found Devault again for a dump on the crease as he snuck in behind his defender off a slow break. Streeter added to the Rip City scoring streak after fighting off an aggressive double team to hit Nick Matzek (Foothill High School) 10 yards across the opposite low crease for another dump to put Rip City up 5-4.
Denver bound Nate Marano (Foothill) would not let Rip City’s scoring continue and found Jonah Rinaldi (Aliso Niguel High School) on the backside crease, then scored an incredible one handed pickup-to-rip that gave the Kings a 6-5 lead. The game would seesaw back and forth with goals from Logan Olmsted (JSerra High School, Kings) and Matzek (Rip City) in addition to a change-up bounce shot that snuck by Jake Henigman (JSerra). With 20 seconds left in the game Notre Dame commit Hugh Crance (Corona del Mar High School) broke out from a ground ball scramble to start a fast break where Mitch Kingsley (JSerra) would find an acrobatic Jonah Rinaldi (Aliso Niguel) for the game winner. OC Kings Purple over Rip City, 8-7.
FCA HS Silver vs OC Kings Elite Purple (ADRLN Elite semifinal)
FCA features players from the East and West Coast and a good handful from lax powerhouse schools like Boys Latin School, Calvert Hall College High School, Landon School, and Chaminade Prepartory. Glen Miles’ team cruised to a 12-2 victory in the first round of the playoffs and had similar dominating performances in all their games this weekend.
After an early goal by FCA both teams played aggressive, solid defense that held the score at 1-0 for the first six minutes of the half. Finally, Yuta Murata (JSerra) received an outlet pass turned fast break where he found James Yanes (JSerra) to even the score 1-1. FCA’s Samuel Harnisch (St. Margaret’s Episcopal School) would finish inside off a feed from fellow FCA attackmen Ryder Garnsey (Brewster Academy) to give FCA a two goal lead 3-1.
Marano would finally get himself involved, drawing a slide for a finish by Yanes for his second goal of the game then stepping in uncovered and burying it from 10 on the next possession to even the score 3-3. After a stellar five save performance by Hank Lewis (Foothill), four of which were doorstop, Henigman would take over in the net and deliver the same save count but face a flurry of shots by FCA.
The Kings started man-up and Hofstra-bound Kingsley took advantage pushing the corner from X and dumping it himself past FCA’s goalie. One more goal off a fast break by Yanes from Kevin Codzis (Foothill) to complete his hat trick would be the last goal for the Kings. FCA turned it on and scored four in the last three minutes to win 9-5.
FCA’s Ryan Harnisch (St. Margaret’s) was again unstoppable but it should be noted that converted face-off middie and Notre Dame committed defensemen Crance did make the faceoff contests even for the majority of the game.
OC Kings Elite Gold vs Seattle Starz 2015 (STX Elite Final)
In addition to having three players play a extra full game in the 2016/2017 all-star match (Kevin Kodzis, Kostra Dalis, and Ryan Blank all from Foothill), OC Kings Elite upset RC Elite in the semifinal game in a close one that really took a toll on the team from Orange County physically. The same Kings team lost to RC twice in Vegas and had to have a great comeback to get their revenge at the Challenge in the semis.
OC Kings came out flat and after the first two minutes it was already 3-0. A timeout was called to settle the team down. With a settled offense the tired boys were no match for the Seattle defense. At halftime Seattle led 5-0. Hoyt Crance (CdM) did everything humanly possible to keep it that close in the first half stopping four would be goals point blank. Blank matched Crance’s effort in the 2nd half only letting in two. The King’s offense had no chance to come back due to Seattle’s patient and settled offense owning possession.
On the defensive side for Kings, Juniors Cole Fergus (Foothill, M), Danny Carter (Foothill, D), Matt Marano (Foothill, D) played as well as you could want against the Seattle offensive onslaught.
Orange County All Star Selections:
Yuta Murata (JSerra)
Logan Olmsted (JSerra)
Eric Suh (St. Margaret’s)
Kostra Dalis (Foothill)
Kevin Kodzis (Foothill)
Ryan Blank (Foothill)
Brett Greenlee (CdM) – see Saturday’s writeup
Paddy Fallon (St. Margaret’s) – see Saturday’s writeup
Nick Matzek (Foothill) – Matzek is an all around attack threat. He can score from the outside or take it himself inside. Pure finisher through and through.
NOTE: Coaches and recruiters were instructed not to vote for players who were already committed or they had seen enough of previously.
–MaxLaxOC Staff Report