Top-ranked Palos Verdes (14-1) continued its run through the Los Angeles boys lacrosse landscape Tuesday with a convincing 15-8 home nonleague win over No. 2 Loyola (11-5). Luc Charbonnier (5g) provided a third of the offense for the Sea Kings, who snapped a three-game losing streak against the Cubs, including the 2017 and 2018 LA Championship games.
With wins over Harvard Westlake, Oaks Christian, and Loyola this season, Palos Verdes is well positioned to earn the No. 1 seed in the LA Championship Tournament with two regular season games and the Bay League Tournament remaining.
“We kind of always feel as if we have a target on our back, and that’s a good thing,” Sea Kings coach Jimmy Borell said. “It’s something to have pride in and not shy away from. For us, we still have a ways to go. We can get better all over the field and we’re going to keep working, as far as I’m concerned.”
Palos Verdes capitalized on an advantage at the face-off dot, where Cole Clinton won 17 of 25. Loyola has struggled all season to find a consistent replacement for Aidan Hesse (Tufts), the 2018 LA Player of the Year in the middle.
“We played way too much defense, lost the face-off battle,” Cubs coach Seth Cohen said. “We’ve had some struggles at the face-off dot all year. Matt Gottfried is kind of finding his way. We’re trying to do the best we can, and they have a real good guy, but I don’t think we played our ‘A’ game [Tuesday].”
After Matt Garvey (1g, 1a) gave Loyola a 1-0 lead to start the game, Palos Verdes scored four unanswered behind Landon Smith (1g, 5a), Birk Swan (3g) and Charbonnier to take a 4-1 lead into the second quarter.
Each squad scored three goals in the second quarter, sending Palos Verdes into halftime leading 7-4. Owen Gaffney (4g) was the star of the day offensively for the Cubs and two of his goals came in the second quarter.
Charbonnier scored all three of PV’s second-quarter goals on assists from Smith — the duo connected again in the fourth.
“They are awesome,” Borell said. “Loyola’s got some massive defenders, so [Smith] was getting beat up a little bit. A lot of people forget that [Charbonnier] was on JV last year and has just worked his tail off.”
The Sea Kings carried an 11-7 lead into the fourth quarter, then put their foot on the gas, scoring three goals in the first four minutes of the period to open a 14-7 lead. Brad Sharp (3g, 4a) scored all of his goals in the second half, including one in that fourth-quarter burst.
Jordan White (1g), Jake Jellison (1g) and Michael Nagy (1g) rounded out the Sea Kings offense. Defensively, Palos Verdes got great goalie play from Kyle McCann with 14 saves and Brandon Clark and Neil Randall each caused a turnover.
Gaffny led Loyola with five goals, and Alex Horowitz (1g, 1a), Jack Carolan (1g, 1a), and Aidan LaBella (1g) rounded out the Cubs’ scoring.
Loyola will wrap up its regular season with a spring-break trip to New York, where it will face Long Island power Garden City, ranked No. 6 nationally by Inside Lacrosse, on April 23, and Fordham Prep on April 25.
“We’re going to have to be a lot better if we’re going to beat anyone in New York, I can tell you that,” Cohen said. “But we still think we’re a good team when we play the best ball we can play. We just need to dial it in, figure out what we did wrong, and get better at it.”
Meanwhile, Palos Verdes will head to Oak Park to take on the ninth-ranked Eagles on Thursday night, conclude its regular season against top-ranked Orange County power St. Margaret’s (San Juan Capistrano) at home on Saturday afternoon.