There will be no three-peats from top-seeded Redondo Union this season. The Sea Hawks were dethroned by Bay League rival No. 3 Palos Verdes 13-9 in the LA City Championship on Wednesday at Westlake High School. This is the Sea Kings’ first LA championship since 2012 and third in program history, which dates back to 2002.
This was the fourth time this season the neighboring programs had played, with the Sea Kings (14-3) defeating Redondo (17-3) in the tournament-style Rose Bowl Jamboree title game and the teams splitting their two league matchups. Palos Verdes won the first meeting 10-8, and the Sea Hawks returned the favor two weeks later, winning 14-8.
The difference Wednesday was dominance across the board in the second half by Palos Verdes, which outplayed Redondo all over the field and outscored the Sea Hawks 7-4. PV defensively managed to keep the ball away from Redondo’s big guns, and offensively played at its own pace.
“We made up a drill because they swarm in the midfield (in transition),” Sea Kings coach Justine Beirne said. “So we made up a couple of drills just to be ready for that.”
Brooke Tokushige (4g) put on another star performance for Redondo and got the Sea Hawks going in the first half. However, Brooklyn Merchant (4g, 3a) scored two unanswered for the Sea Kings in response, and was all over the field the entire game.
Redondo senior Emma Hodges (2g, 1a, 9 draw control) scored both her goals in the first half, but Kelly Hoyt (4g), McKenzie Olsen (1g), and Abbie Merchant (4g, 1a) countered in what was a see-saw first half with PV going into the break up 6-5.
Senior captain Hoyt has been one of the Sea Kings’ biggest leaders throughout the past few years, and was not very pleased with how her squad looked in the first half. Along with some of the other seniors on the team, they decided their play needed to change in the final 25 minutes.
“I think all of us just realized that this could be our last game, especially the seniors,” Hoyt said. “We weren’t playing that well in the first half, and we all thought if this was going to be our last game, we should play our hardest and our best.”
Speaking of senior leadership, the Merchant twins each scored to open the second half, putting Palos Verdes up 8-5. Addison Bass (2g) and Tokushige brought the game back to within one for Redondo, but that was the closest the Sea Hawks were going to get.
Hoyt and the Merchants powered the Sea Kings offense down the stretch as the team ended the game on a 5-2 run, and with a trophy.
“[Palos Verdes] is a great team; we’re a great team,” Sea Hawks coach Tom Borgia said. “They’re great; they’ve got a lot of tall girls. Anything that was up high we couldn’t seem to get.”
Goalie Aubrey Fixen was another key contributor in the second half for Palos Verdes with six saves.
Beirne, in her first year as PV coach, put the credit solely on her players — including 11 seniors, at least five of whom will play in college.
“I can’t take all of the credit for it; these girls came tuned up,” Beirne said. “When I got them, they were good lacrosse players, so they made it easy, because I got to do the fun stuff like strategy and pep talks instead of teaching catching and throwing. They knew it.”
Caitlin Hanniff (1g) and Marianna Gamet (1a) each had a point offensively for the Sea Hawks. Borgia was proud of his squad, most notably his seniors, who have won two LA City Championships and been to the city finals all four years.
“All in all, it was a great season in my mind,” Borgia said. “I always tell the kids it’s about the journey, we had a lot of great things happen.”
St. Margarets’ retained its Orange Coounty crown Wednesday with a 15-11 upset of top-seeded Foothill on Wednesday. Palos Verdes will play the Tartans for the Southern Section Championship on Saturday (10 a.m.) at Mira Costa HS in Manhattan Beach.
“I think we’re gonna do it (Saturday),” Hoyt said with confidence. “I think we have it.”