A 6-0 second-quarter eruption powered No. 1 Palos Verdes to it’s second consecutive US Lacrosse Southern Section North championship Wednesday with a 12-7 win over No. 7 seed Crespi.
The Sea Kings (17-5) advance to meet South champion St. Margaret’s on Saturday at Mira Costa HS (noon). The Tartans (20-3) beat JSerra Catholic 14-9 on Wednesday. Saturday’s matchup is one many expected to see two years ago, but Harvard Westlake upset Palos Verdes in the 2013 L.A. title game. Without that shocker, the Sea Kings would be sitting on four consecutive L.A. titles.
Wednesday, Palos Verdes leaned on its stellar defense and quick-strike transition game to jump on Crespi early as the Celts struggled to possess. Palos Verdes junior LSM Jarrett Jones (pictured, top) was credited with four caused turnovers and five ground balls. Crespi’s inability to hold possession and get into its offense caught up to it in the second quarter.
Palos Verdes led 3-2 after one quarter but jumped all over Crespi in the second. The Sea Kings dominated possession time and out-shot Crespi 13-4 in the quarter in building a 9-2 halftime lead.
Crespi (13-7) had trailed the Sea Kings 9-3 at halftime on March 9, Palos Verdes’ opening game of the season, before rallying to force overtime. More recently, the Celts had overcome late, two-goal deficits to beat Loyola and Thousand Oaks in the playoffs. This time, though, a comeback was not in the cards. Crespi played better in the second half, outscoring PV 5-3, but never was able to get the deficit under five.
Junior attack Aidan Westley led Palos Verdes with five goals and two assists, and fellow junior attack Rizal Smith had three goals and two assists. Senior middie Stanton Gilbertson scored three for the Sea Kings, including back-to-back goals to open the second quarter and key the PV run. Sophomore attack Austin Lowi contributed a goal and two assists, and junior middie Peter Henkhaus, making his first appearance of the season after recovering from a broken collarbone, and junior Mikey Booth each had an assist.
Senior Alex Dixon scored three goals for Crespi, bringing his four-game playoff total to 22 and his season total to 92. Senior middie Seth Park scored two, and senior attack Sean Friedman and sophomore middie Dorian Ruh scored one each.
PV goalie D McCann made nine saves. Crespi keeper Nick Enos made eight.
Now the Sea Kings get another chance at becoming the first L.A. champion to win the US Lacrosse Southern Section championship. Palos Verdes has been to this game before, losing to Foothill in 2008, to Corona del Mar in 2012 and to Foothill last year. To break through, the Sea Kings will have to beat St. Margaret’s, which won the section in 2013 and which beat PV 11-8 back in March.
For Crespi, the loss ends another superb playoff run. Last year, the Celts were seeded ninth and beat No. 8 Agoura and No. 1 Harvard Westlake before falling to No. 5 Oak Park 10-9 in the semifinals. This year, as a No. 7 seed, Crespi beat Agoura, then upset No. 2 Loyola and No. 6 Thousand Oaks to reach the title game for the first time in program history.